Theology

We cannot, but Jesus Did

 

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21 ESV)

We can sometimes forget the most basic realities of the Christian faith. We might assume that a time comes when we move onto bigger and better things or we get distracted by the cares of this world and forget to value what is meant to be most central to our hearts. The gospel is like that. We hear it, we accept it, and then we move on. But we were never meant to "move on" from the realities of the gospel. Treasuring Jesus in the gospel is not something we graduate from. It is like the foundation of our house of faith. We may build upon it, but we never get rid of it and we always rest upon it.

When I want to remind myself of the gospel and rejoice in its goodness, one of my go to passages is 2 Corinthians 5:21. In just a few short phrases it communicates the magnitude of the gospel. In particular, it tells us about the realities of what has become known as the "great exchange." It tells us about the glorious truth that on the cross Jesus exchanged his righteousness for our sin, and through faith in Jesus we are given Christ's righteousness in place of our sin. Incredible! Jesus gives up his righteousness and takes our sin, so that we can shed our sin and take on his righteousness. Let's unpack this even more.

He did what we could not

Jesus did what we could not. He "knew no sin." The Bible tell us that Jesus was tempted in every way that we are, and yet he did not sin (Heb 4:15). In our society, which prizes self-esteem, even at the cost of honesty, we do not like to talk about our sin. Everyone knows they have sin, but no one wants to admit it for themselves or speak honestly about it for others. Many know they have sin, but they don't want anyone else to think they do.

Jesus was not like that. He did not cover his sin by making excuses or putting on a mask. He did not white-wash a tomb, pretending to make pure and alive what contained dead and rotting corpses. Jesus is the real deal. He lived his entire life without sin. He was tempted in every way that we are, and resisted sin on each and every occasion. When he was murdered upon a cross he was not just legally innocent of the crimes put forward by his Jewish and Roman accusers, he was also innocent of the sin he bore for humanity.

Jesus did what we could not. He was sinless.

And became what he was not

Jesus lived without sin, but he died with the weight of all humanity's sin resting upon him. Jesus became sin, so that he could ransom us through his blood. In Jesus, God cancels our record of debt - which stands against us and rightly claims we are condemned. Jesus became sin, nailing it to the cross, so that our rightly-condemning debt could be paid.

In order to do that, Jesus became sin. "For our sake he made him to be sin, who knew no sin." We naturally think that the physical suffering was the worst part of the cross. In no way do I want to minimize the physical agony the cross must have caused Jesus. It is a pain I will likely never come close to experiencing. But, often forgotten in it all, is that becoming sin must have been worse.

Consider the guilt you feel when you are confronted with your sin. It is heavy and weighs on you. Imagine for a second that weight is like the dripping of a faucet, annoying but tolerable. Now consider what it might feel like to experience the weight of all your sin (past, present and future) all at once. Personally, I think it would be unbearable. I think my body would shut down and I would die from the spiritual, emotional and psychological agony I would experience. If one sin is like a dripping faucet, this might be like a flooded river. Now consider what it might be like to take on the weight of all sin, from all time, for all humanity, all at once. It would be crushing. Like the most powerful waters of the worst hurricane. This is what Jesus did. He became sin, for all humanity, throughout all time. It is impossible for us to fully grasp the immensity of what Jesus did on the cross.

Jesus did what we could not. And became what he was not.

So we could become what we are not

Why did Jesus do all this? He did it so that "in him we might become the righteousness of God." When we treasure Jesus as our savior - when, by grace through faith, we trust in Jesus as our lord, not only does he take our sin from us, but he gives us his righteousness. Jesus didn't just live without sin, but he also healed the sick, proclaimed the gospel and loved everyone around him perfectly. When we place our faith in Jesus, all that righteousness is attributed to us.

In our standing before God, he doesn't look at us as sinners, but as righteous, blood-bought saints. He doesn't see our sin, because Jesus took our sin. He sees us as righteous because Jesus is fully righteous. The implications of this are vast. We are adopted and become co-heirs with Christ. We are made alive together with Jesus. We have God's Spirit living inside us, working on our hearts to transform us increasingly more into the likeness of Jesus. We are sent as God's ambassadors, invited into the privilege of participating in God's mission in the world. We could go on and on.

This message is not something we move past. It is something we come back to day after day, reminding ourselves of the goodness of the gospel, so that the rest of our lives are shaped by this remarkable reality.

That Jesus did what we could not, and became what he was not, so that we could become what we are not.

Four Reasons God Gave us Marriage

The present cultural narrative concerning marriage has been written, and in some ways, biblically committed Christians have been cast as the villain. But it doesn’t have to stay this way. To change the narrative, we need a compelling alternative to the current trajectory our culture is on regarding marriage.

Unfortunately, we have become typecast as only caring about one issue – albeit an extremely important one. In reality though, there is more than one issue to worry about. The average marrying age is getting older and older, divorce rates are far too high and many have chosen to simply not marry at all – just to name a few.

We lament that the narrative around marriage has been written, and along the way we got booted from the author’s desk. If we were given back the pen, what would we say? If we want to provide the redirection our culture needs, we must have a clear vision. An important place to start is by answering the question, “why did God give us marriage?” Here are four reasons.

Overflow of God’s love

God is love (1 John 4:8). He possesses full and complete love within Himself and that love overflows into his image bearers. We have been created as relational beings, after the image of God, because God is a relational being Himself. When God was in the process of creating in Genesis 1-2, the common refrain, "And God saw that it was good" is repeated multiple times. Until He created man, and He said, "it is not good..." The shift in this phrase should catch our attention, and lead us to ask, "what was not good?" The answer, "It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make a helper fit for him (Gen 2:18)."

God exists in Trinitarian community, and He has created us to exist in community as well. The relationship God forms between Adam and Eve points to one of marriage's most basic purposes. He saw that it was not good for man to be alone, because God's first image bearer could not fully express the image alone. This is a good reminder that relational connection is important for our marriages. Do not neglect your spouse, because you were brought together to mutually express the divine love of God through intentionally investing in your loving union.

Filling the earth with God's image

The first command God gives to His new image bearers is to "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth… (Gen 1:28)." The mission of God (Missio Dei) is linked with the image of God (Imago Dei), because we are called to fill the earth with God's image and glory. Jesus gave the command to his disciples to "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations... (Mt. 28:19)." We are sent to make disciples, to turn people's gaze toward Christ.

We are called to make disciples of all nations, and we are also called to make disciples of the little image bearers in our home. We are called to bring the gospel to the far reaches of the world, and also make it shine before the eyes of our kids. The chief aim of missions is to see God's original intention fulfilled. This is also one of the primary purposes of marriage, the multiplication of God-worshipping image bearers. One of the reasons God has given us marriage is so He can multiply His image and fill the earth with His glory, and the way we disciple are children is integral to that vision.

Human flourishing

Christian marriage is not about me, but about us. It is an essential institution for human flourishing. A culture and society that gives up on God's design for marriage will inevitably see the ripple effect through the breakdown of other essential institutions.

We have made marriage more about individual fulfillment, which undermines one of God's initial reasons for giving it to us. In The Meaning of Marriage, Timothy Keller writes, "Marriage used to be a public institution for the common good, and now it is a private arrangement for the satisfaction of the individuals. Marriage used to be about us, but now it is about me."

When we see that marriage is about more than simply our own fulfillment, it tells a compelling story about the way God designed marriage to work. When marriage is not about the individual, they are ready to serve and sacrifice for their spouse. When marriage is not only for the couple, but for the good of their church, their neighborhood, their school district, their children and for all of society, then one of God’s purposes for marriage is fulfilled.

Picture of Christ and the Church

One of the central Scripture passages about marriage is found in Ephesians. As Paul is working his way through the practical implications of the gospel, he comes to marriage. He explains, among other exhortations, that marriage is a picture of Christ and the Church. Paul calls men to "love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her (Eph 5:25)." He goes on to say, "This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church (Eph 5:32)." Our marriages help us further understand the gospel message, because marriage paints a picture of Christ's love for the church.

Our marriages provide us with an opportunity to deepen our own understanding of the gospel, and further reveal the gospel to those around us. God gave us marriage to be a living picture of His relationship with His people, and His love for them in the gospel.

As we pick up the pen, I pray we give voice to God’s purpose in marriage - in word and deed, that our marriages would be fiercely committed to loving relationship, the discipleship of our children, the good of our cities and the message of the gospel.

Understanding the 3-Layers of Sin

Sin is complicated and it is messy. One of the great challenges to fighting sin is that we don't always understand sin or see how it works. While there is no magic pill that eliminates sin from our lives, I have learned a few things about how it works that might help you in our own battles with sin.

Sin has three layers, and we often fight it at the wrong level, which is part of why we find ourselves failing to see progress. The outermost layer of sin is the behavior level. It is the most noticeable and observable and therefore the level we spend most of our time in battle. The problem is that our behaviors have a deeper root, a sin beneath the sin. This deeper root is the second layer - the layer of heart idols. Jesus says that out of the heart the mouth speaks. And that good trees (heart level) bear good fruit (behavior level), while bad trees (heart level) bear bad fruit (behavior level) (Luke 6:43-45). Over and over again, the Scriptures make it clear that our behavior is a product of what is happening inside our hearts. Finally, an even deeper level exists, which is our Christ-centered identity. Ultimately, all sin flows from a loss of understanding regarding our identity.

 

Why behavior is not where we do battle

The reason that we do not simply fight our sin on the behavior level is because it will not ultimately solve the real problem. Its like drinking a lot of coffee to make up for the fatigue caused by a lack of sleep. Drinking coffee may fix the immediate need, but it is the lack of sleep that needs to be remedied. Our sinful behaviors are merely an expression of the deeper sin issue that exists in our heart. If we deal with the behavior, but never fix the heart issue, then our deeper sin will reappear as a new behavior or just reemerge five years down the road as the same behavior. We must deal with the deeper sin.

For example, if someone is struggling with looking at pornography, then they need to not only eliminate the behavior, but also deal with the underlying issue. Looking at pornography is at the behavior level, and is an expression of a deeper heart idol. The deeper issue might be a need for significance, which they seek in the images on a screen. The deeper heart idol might be a need for control, which they find when they look at pornography. These deeper heart idols need to be analyzed and dealt with, or the behavior will return. Whether in the same way, or a new way, the deeper sin will always express itself in sinful behavior.

Why we still fight against the behavior

Even though we need to ultimately deal with the heart issues, changing our behavior does matter. We still need to create habits and patterns in our life that help us to fight the behavior, so that we are freed up to deal with the heart. If we are constantly expressing our anger by yelling and losing control, we will have a heard time dealing with the underlying issue that drives our anger and loss of control. If we never stop looking at pornography, we will have a hard time dealing with the deeper heart idols that express themselves in those behaviors. Creating safe-guards and fences to help us eliminate behavior, gives us the space to deal with the heart. Like the fences around a yard to keep children safe inside. It isn't restrictive, it is actually freeing. If there was no fence, there would be no playing outside. When there is a fence, there is freedom to play. In the same way, we build fences to keep us safe from our sinful behaviors, so we can deal with the deeper heart idols. I wrote about this principle in a previous post, and you can read it here.

Knowing our identity is central to fighting sin

At the deepest level, our sin is the product of a loss of identity. When we fail to recognize who we are in Christ, and what our new life means, it leads to heart idols. When we forget that we have all the significance we need in Christ, we seek it in other places. When we forget that Christ is in control, and that it is far better for us when he is (Romans 8:28), we try to gain control on our own. So in the battle with sin, we need to constantly remind ourselves of our identity in Christ.

At the deepest level, our sin is the product of a loss of identity.

The way to fight sin is not to degrade the good things God has given us in life, which we have turned into idols, it is to elevate Jesus and remember the goodness of the Gospel. One way to do this is to make a habit of preaching the gospel to yourself, which you can read about here. Another great resource would be read Timothy Keller's book Counterfeit Gods.

Sin is manipulative and deceptive, and therefore it is very difficult to fight. When we have a better understanding of how it works in our lives, we can see progress in the battle.

Whiteboard Theology: We begin and grow by the power of the same Spirit

Are you now being perfected by the flesh?

We have a habit of trusting in our own strength in order to grow as followers of Jesus. We preach a gospel of faith, not works. We stand in agreement with the Scriptures that we are saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9). And then we spend the rest of our lives living as though we can earn something on our own. As though we can persist by our own strength. The Biblical vision for the Christian is not that we live by our own strength, but that we are perfected by the same Spirit that saved us. We walk by the strength of God's Spirit, which began this good work in us.

This is not a new concept. We are not falling into a new form of error. Believing that we can somehow earn something on our own is as old as sin itself. In the early Church, Paul gave this exhortation to the churches in Galatia:

"Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith—just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness? (Galatians 3:2-6 ESV)"

The Galatians were being led astray by foolish teachers who were undermining the truth of the Gospel message. We must resist the same false message in our own lives. Whether implicit or explicit, the message is being sent that we can somehow earn something from God.

Salvation is more than conversion

Salvation is often equated with only the point of conversation. The Gospel message is commonly taught as a message about only conversion, but that is not consistent with a Biblical picture of salvation. Three core elements of salvation are: Justification (Rom 5:1, 2 Cor 5:21), Sanctification (John 17:16-17; Heb. 10:14) and Glorification (1 John 3:2). All of which happen by the power of Jesus through the work of God's Spirit.

In Hebrews, it says that through Jesus, God has "perfected for all time those who are being sanctified [perfected] (Heb 10:14)." Justification means that "for all time" God has made us completely perfect through Jesus. Another way of saying it is that we have been made fully righteous through Jesus. He took our sin and he gave us his righteousness (2 Cor 5:21).

Even though we have been made perfect through Jesus (justification), we still experience the imperfect nature of our current life. God is still in the process of sanctifying us in our motives, words and deeds. I still experience sin in my life, and so do you. Every day I wage war against my sin and God is helping me grow. I am being perfected (sanctified).

Glorification means that one day I will be like Jesus. I am not yet like Jesus, but God is shaping me more and more into the likeness of Christ. One day, it will be brought to fruition. I look forward to that day with great joy.

Here is a diagram of these three elements of salvation drawn on the white board in my office:

You have an infinite source of strength

Be encouraged today. If you have been laboring under the weight of your own sin, you don't have the fight the battle alone. Actually, you cannot succeed at fighting the battle alone. The power of Jesus through the work of the Holy Spirit gives you both the motivation and the strength to grow as a Christian.

Motivation

You are already perfect before God (justification). Jesus has already given you his righteousness and you do not have to be afraid of your standing before God. Trying to live a perfect life on your own earns you nothing. Jesus has already lived the perfect life on your behalf. Trying to live a perfect life on your own will actually lead you astray as it did the Galatians. Our motivation to pursue sanctification is not to earn something. Instead, we are motivated because Jesus has already earned everything we need. We do not fight sin to earn God's love, because God has already loved us through Jesus. We fight sin in response to God's love. We fight sin because He already loves us and that love motivates us to pursue the life God desires for us.

Strength

The same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead lives inside of you (Rom 8:11). The same Spirit that saved you through faith in Jesus continues to give you the strength to live the Christian life. Why do you try to earn by your own strength that which God has already given you through His Spirit? In faith you began through the Spirit. In faith you will continue through the Spirit.

In faith you began through the Spirit. In faith you will continue through the Spirit.

How do we respond?

Take a moment and pray. Ask God to reveal the ways you are trying to live by your own strength. Repent of those areas and your self-righteous attitude that says you can do it on your own. Turn to God and rely on the power of the Spirit to give you strength for your day. This is not a theoretical exercise. After I typed those words, I stopped and did exactly what I am asking you to do. Be encouraged. You have all the strength you need for your day.

If you get a chance to share in the comments below, let us know how this impacts your life today.

The 5 ways Christians are called by God

Called by God

The staff team at First Baptist Church have been reading J. Oswald Sanders' classic book Spiritual Leadership together. We are only a couple chapters into the book so far, but I have personally enjoyed the book to this point. The most recent chapter discussed the need for leaders in the church who represent a Biblical vision of leadership. Sanders wrote, "If the world is to hear the church's voice today, leaders are needed who are authoritative, spiritual, and sacrificial (pg. 18 of the 2007 edition)."

Overall, the chapter was about the need for leaders who are prepared to serve God's people in God's ways. While it was not the main thrust of the chapter, there was also a sense of God calling these leaders forth. Moses, Gideon and David were all called by God to lead his people. They were not perfect and they had their flaws, but God used them in mighty ways.

This got me thinking, how are Christians called by God? Is there more than one type of call that a Christian might experience?

I began to think about my own life. I was first called by God in a chair at a youth conference in Steubenville, OH. The speaker shared the story of redemption as revealed through Scripture. He explained that God had created the world and loved his creation, but something had gone wrong. Sin had entered the world and broken the relationship that God had with his people. Because of our sin, God had to remedy the situation on our behalf through the person and work of Jesus. The speaker invited us to respond to the call of God and follow Jesus with our lives. It was there in Ohio that God gave me new life. It was there that God called me to be one of his followers.

I also received a very distinct call during my sophomore year in college. I had gone to North Dakota State University (Go Bison!) to be an architect, but God had other plans. While I sat in an auditorium, God called me into full-time vocational ministry. I didn't know how it would all work itself out, but I knew that God had invited me to a life of ministry. It would take ten more years before I was actually in a full-time vocational ministry position... Sometimes it requires patience to wait for God's timing. I was not always patient, but God remained faithful.

These are just two ways that I was personally called by God. But are there more ways that Christians might be called by God? I believe there are. I have come up with five different ways that Christians are called. I do not claim to have produced a complete and comprehensive list, but these may cause you to reflect more on the ways God has called you as a follower of Jesus.

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The 5 ways Christians are called by God

1. Called to follow Jesus

Our first and most important call is to follow Jesus. There is no more significant call we can receive than to follow Jesus. On the sea of Galilee Jesus called his first disciples to follow him. He said to Simon and Andrew, "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men (Mt. 4:19)." If you follow Jesus, you have received that call. You may not remember it as a particular moment in time, but somewhere along your journey God called you. He woke you up from an eternal slumber. You went from death to life. Through Jesus, God "delivered us from the present evil age (Gal 1:4)." We often limit the notion of a "call" to just those who work in vocational ministry. But for anyone who follows Jesus, we have the most basic and most important call in common. The call to follow Jesus.

2. Called to be his witnesses

The moment you heeded the call to follow Jesus, you were also called to be his witness. Jesus told his first disciples, "you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth (Acts 1:8)." As followers of Jesus, we are called to be his witnesses in the world. It doesn't matter our profession, income level, marital status, age, race or any other factor. If we follow Jesus, we are called to be his witnesses. They go hand in hand. In the middle of Jesus' high priestly prayer he says that he has sent his followers into the world in the same way that God had sent Jesus into the world (Jn 17:18). We are all the sent ones of Jesus. The word "sent" here is the greek work apostello, which is where we get the word apostle. This doesn't mean that we are all "capital-A" Apostles. It doesn't even mean that we have all received the apostolic spiritual gifts. What it does mean, is that no matter who you are you are Jesus' sent one. You are called to be his witness in the world. You are called to represent him in word and deed through compassionate ministry and the clear communication of the gospel.

The moment you heeded the call to follow Jesus, you were also called to be his witness.

3. Called to church leadership

A third way that you might be called by God is to invest in your local church as a leader. There are varying degrees of investment you can make as a leader, and therefore varying degrees of call. We see this notion of call represented in Paul's letter to Timothy. Paul wrote about overseers (elders/bishops), "If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task (1 Tim 3:1)." The thrust of this verse is that a man will have aspirations of fulfilling this important role within the local church. I am suggesting that this aspiration comes as a result of God's call upon a man who desires that noble task. When we extrapolate this general principle, we can conclude that God may also be calling you to invest your time and talent into the local church by helping to lead a Community Group or other ministry team.

This call does not necessitate you make a change to vocational ministry. In fact, for the vast majority of people who feel called to local church leadership, it will mean the exact opposite. Many will pursue other professions or careers, while also helping to lead their local church. I have a particular friend in mind who feels a very distinct call to local church leadership, but not as a profession. He serves as an administrator in a public school and has a clear sense of call to that role. He also serves as an elder at a local church in Fargo, and provides fantastic leadership to a growing church plant. In my conversations with him, it was apparent that he has a clear sense of call to local church leadership while also serving as a school administrator.

God might be calling you to local church leadership, but it doesn't necessarily require you to change professions. Where might God be calling you to serve?

4. Called to your vocation

When I first began to write this post, this fourth call was going to be titled - "called to vocational ministry." But in fact, everyone is called to their vocation. Not just pastors or missionaries. When did God call you to your vocation? Do you feel a sense of call to your vocation? Martin Luther did some great work in this area to challenge Christians to view their own work as a vocation to which God has called you. If you are a lawyer, God has called you to that domain in order to bring God's Kingdom to bear on our justice system. If you are a teacher, God has called you to that domain in order to bring God's Kingdom to bear on our education system. If you are in a skilled trade, God has called you to that domain in order to bring God's Kingdom to bear on the craftsmanship of our world. Consider your own vocation. How has God called you there, and how can you see God using your work to bring glory to His name?

5. Called to a specific vocational ministry

When the third and fourth calls intersect, you might be called into ministry as a vocation. This may work itself out with you entering pastoral ministry, going overseas as a missionary or working on a college campus for a para-church ministry. In my own experience, it took ten years from when I first received a call to vocational ministry and actually entering into a full-time role. The call to a particular ministry will involve much prayer, discernment, counsel and the leading of God's spirit. This will also involve the clarity of others to help confirm that call. This process can take weeks, months or sometimes even years. But when God calls you, and you find your specific role, it is an awesome privilege. Do not take lightly the unique call to lead God's people into a vibrant faith in God.

How have you felt God's call upon your life?

I would love to hear your stories about how you experienced God's call. How where you called to follow Jesus? How have you seen God's call to be his witness work itself out in your life? Have you been called to church leadership? Include your own stories in the comments below.

Technology I use: PrayerMate

I enjoy technology. Probably too much at times. It can be a distraction for me, but I have also found ways to use it in my personal life and my ministry. Every now and again, I would like to share a piece of technology that has been helpful for me.

Posts in the Series

PrayerMate

The first piece of technology I want to share with you is an app I use on my iPhone called PrayerMate (it is also available for Android). It has been a great way for me to remember all the things I want to pray for - whether it be my wife, community group members or missionaries. I often have too many things to remember all at once. PrayerMate remembers for me!

The functionality is great and helps me to pray more often for the things that are important to me. Here are some of my favorite things about PrayerMate:

You can set reminders

Every day I get a prompt on my phone to pray. I can open my PrayerMate app and take some time to pray.

It rotates predetermined prayer cards

You can create prayer cards for all the ways you want to pray. The app allows you to personalize how many different things you want to have pop up each time, and it rotates them for you so that you can pray for each of the things that is important to you.

You can categorize your prayers

I have a lot of different spheres in my life that prompt ways I want to pray. The app allows me use the different spheres as ways to categorize my prayers.

Great pre-loaded content

There is pre-loaded content that gives you great ways to pray. You can add scripture passages to read and prompt you to pray. You can download different mission organizations that you want to pray for, and they update their prayer content. There is much more that I have not explored, but I like that it has some pre-loaded content.

Connect prayer cards to actual contacts in your phone

If there is a particular person you are praying for, you can link them to different prayer cards. This makes it easy for you to send a quick text of encouragement to someone after you pray for them.

They continue to improve the app

During the time I have had the app, they have continued to make updates that improve the app's functionality. I am confident that in a year from now, the app will be even better than it is today. I like to invest in apps that I know will be updated and improved over time.

How do I organize my prayers?

I use 12 different categories to help organize my prayers. Here they are:

Biblical Prayers

I rotate Bible passages that I want to have on my mind, and then I pray through them. I use some of the same passages I use when I preach the gospel to myself, as well as others.

Personal Godliness

I have prayers that I pray for my own growth. If there is an area of sin that I want to be more intentional to pray about, I include it here. If I am sensing a need to trust God more, I pray for it here. These rotate based on how God is showing me that I need to grow.

Megan

My wife gets her own category. I pray for our marriage here, and also for specific things for Megan.

My Family

This is where I pray for my kids and their specific needs. I also pray for our overall family in this area. For example, I am currently praying for our family to have better rhythms of life that facilitate our love and adoration for Jesus.

My Relational Sphere of Influence

In this category, I pray for people in my life that are part of my Relational Sphere of Influence (RSI). You can read more about RSIs in this post. I have all their names as separate prayer cards, and add specific notes if there are particular areas of prayer.

My Community Group

I pray for two different members of my community group each time. There are many people in my community group, so it is helpful to have this category show up twice in each prayer session (a great feature of PrayerMate to personalize your prayer times).

Adult Community Groups

As the Adult Ministries Pastor at First Baptist Church (FBC), this is one of my primary areas of ministry, so I like to pray for things in this category.

Connections Ministry

This is another area of responsibility for me at FBC.

Local & Global Outreach

This is another area of responsibility for me at FBC.

Kinship Ministry

This is another area of responsibility for me at FBC.

Apprentice Relationships

I have a list of people who I am investing in as a mentor, and I pray for them as one of my categories.

Prayer Commitments

There are a number of missionaries and organizations I have committed to pray for. I have a category for them, so that I remember to pray for them. I update the notes associated with each missionary or organization as I get new prayer letters from them.

Links and Information

The app is not free, but the cost is well worth the investment into your prayer life. Some may view the use of this app for prayer as being too mechanical, but I have found it to be extremely helpful to remember to pray for the many different things in my life. It was well worth the investment to fuel my prayer life.

You can get it on iOS and on Android.

Here is a link to learn more about the app: http://www.geero.net/prayermate/

And here is a video that will give you even more information about PrayerMate