conviction (7)


I am not sure forceful writing is something all of us strive for. But I do believe many of us would like to know how to add impetus to the words we write.

How do we write with overwhelming influence on our readers, on our culture? I have thought a great deal about this and I think I have some things to say about writing forcefully. However, before I begin I suppose I should grant you a disclaimer. My books are not, nor are they likely to be, on the New York Times best-seller list. My writing is hardly shaking the world. My lack of authority on this issue opens these suggestions up for discussion. What do you think about each of them? I suspect all of us thinking about our writing, would come up with some principles that could transform our writing and possibly the lives of our readers.

Let me begin with my oldest principle.

Brevity is Force.

Especially for young writers, this may sound counterintuitive. “You are saying, 'The less I write, the greater the impact,?’” Well, that is close to what I am suggesting. I am saying, “Expressing the same thought in fewer words will say it better.” I have a friend who is a riveting preacher. His exposition is brilliant, his illustrations are moving, his logic is cogent and often humorous. But it often takes him over an hour to preach one of them. I have been in some places in the world where that would be ideal, but he does not preach in any of those places. The length of his sermons takes much of the force out of what he has to say. This is every bit as true of writing as it is of speaking.

Clarity is Force.

Most of us would like our writing to be impressive. I remember a comic scene on the old Lou Grant show where someone found an article written 30 years before by their managing editor, Charlie Hume, when he was a cub reporter. The byline on the article read “F. Charles Hume.” He defended himself by saying, “All of us have been pretentious from time to time.” When one of the other characters asked him what the F stood for, he answered, “Nothing, unless you count F. Scott Fitzgerald.” It is always tempting to use big words and try to sound impressive. But the main issue of writing is clear communication. One of the passages of Scripture God has used to speak to me about my writing over the years is Habakkuk 2:1-3. Verse 2 calls us to “write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets.” Great writing is always understandable. A good writer makes what may be complicated plain for people to understand.

I am intimidated by the next of these.

Beauty is Force.

I never feel like my writing can be beautiful. And, indeed, I'm no C.S. Lewis. But writing is an art as well as a craft. Beautiful writing will affect people's lives. Most of us have a sense of beauty when we see it on a printed page. And while I will never be C.S. Lewis, Malcolm Muggeridge, or Philip Yancey, I can read such authors in the hope that their beauty will rub off. And I can strive to improve the beauty of what I have to say and how I write it.

Truth is Force.

I'm not sure this is not the most important of these principles. One of the best writing prompts I have ever seen, especially for poetry, says, “Write the truest sentence that you know.” I am writing primarily to Christian writers. You actually have an advantage over others in this area because you have a grip on ultimate truth.

Conviction is Force.

You need to know why you believe what you believe is true. A good writer is a clear thinker. A good writer is always asking why. You will spend time thinking through things until you come to a bedrock of conviction. A good writer knows what she thinks and why she thinks it, what she knows and how she knows it, what she believes and why she believes it.

Compassion is Force.

Good writers care about their readers. Christian writers pray for the needs of people who will read their work. The importance of what you have to say relates directly to the needs, sometimes the deepest needs, of those for whom you are writing.

God's Moving is Force.

The most life-changing force in writing is the hand of God on your words. At this point I'm talking about something that goes far beyond your craft. The hand of God on your writing flows from the depth of your relationship with God, and the effect He has on all of your life. I believe this is true whether you are writing a devotional book, a theological treatise, or a baseball story. What God is doing in your life we'll impact the lives of your readers.



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From time to time I have enjoyed rereading some of my favorite books. There are several books that I revisit every few years. I recently took up The Robe that I hadn't read for about 25 years. I was amazed by how much of it I did not remember. I do not mean I did not remember certain parts until I had reread them. Most of it struck me like a book I had never read. This is a fairly new and embarrassing experience for me. This past weekend we went on a short trip with my daughter's family. I was shuffling through books my granddaughter had brought to read and discovered, Snoopy's Guide to the Writing Life. I begin to read and laugh out loud with delight. I told my granddaughter I needed to borrow the book from her. I was quickly informed that it was my book. Sure enough I turned back to the flyleaf and discovered that the book was given me with a marvelous dedication from a friend who happens to be a really good writer.

I have recently had several far more embarrassing incidents of memory loss. This is not my worst handicap. And I have had to ask myself if they will hinder my ability to write. The answer that came to me immediately was, 'They won't, if I do not let them.” Most of us who know God wants us to write have to work through numerous handicaps.

My favorite fiction writer is Bodie Thoene. She and her husband Brock research their their historical novels together. They have over 35 million books in print in more than 35 languages. I once heard them interviewed at the end of one of their audio books. I was amazed to learn that Bodie is dyslexic and has found it too painful to reread her own books. This is something like Beethoven writing the 9th Symphony and other marvelous works after he was completely deaf.

What are your weaknesses? All of us have them. But if you will not let them they probably will not keep you from putting words up on the computer screen and publishing them to bless lives.

Now, I fear I have been a little too simplistic. Handicaps can be terribly difficult to work through. And despite the two examples I gave, some of them are absolutely impossible to overcome as a writer. However, I do believe there are three obedient actional attitudes to apply to your weaknesses.

One of them is conviction. Do you sense a compulsion, possibly even a calling from God? Do not give up because what you face is difficult.

Another is endurance. Stay at it, work at it. Think continually about ways to cope with it or get around it. When I brought up some evidences of my memory loss to my 10 year old granddaughter she immediately begin to tell me about a study done with nuns who remained sharp because they continued to be mentally active. And it was discovered by postmortem pathologies of their brains that they actually had full-blown Alzheimer's. They had staved off the effects by keeping mentally and physically active. You can look this study up it's easy to find on Google. Whatever your handicap, don't give up on it.

Finally, and most important, pray about it. Of course God may take away your thorn In the flesh. But in many cases God will glorify Himself by turning your weakness into strength as you obey Him.


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I have tremendous respect for David Platt. I pray nearly every day for God to continue to use him mightily. I recommend listening to his sermons. You can find many of them on YouTube. David has shocked people by preaching against telling people to pray a sinner's prayer. He rightly notes that we have been guilty of communicating to people that they can be right with God by praying those words as a sort of ritual without becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ.

I agree with David. But I also believe a person cannot become a disciple without a direct connection with the Lord. That is prayer. We respond to God's embrace in prayer. If we look at the words we use as a conversion prayer, we see this intent.

We encourage people to pray a prayer of the conviction of sin.

Lord I know I am a sinner.”

We also include repentance.

I want to turn from my sins to you.”

If we are going to lead people to invite Christ into their life, we should warn them that they are doing business with Almighty God. They need to be fearful of praying such words without meaning them.

And inherent is the gospel is the fact that we cannot even repent without God's help. People do not come to God by their sincerity. We must come receiving His forgiveness.

I know You died for me. I accept your forgiveness, and Your gift of eternal life. I trust myself to You.”

One of the problems with using the “sinner's prayer” for evangelism is that it is so easy. It is tempting for us because we don't have to enter into a life-long relationship with the person praying. Just get them to pray these words.

It is also too easy for the person coming to Christ. Someone can pray those words without even thinking. I also believe a person can come to Christ and truly be born again without saying the right words. We might suggest that a person think about the decision she is making over night before she prays such a prayer. Of course, we will need to be sensitive to the person and to the Holy Spirit in the situation. But You can trust Him to bring to completion the work He has begun in a person who has heard the gospel.

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We ought to see everything in Scripture in the light Jesus and through the lens of the gospel. From time to time over the next few months  I want to show how one passage or another can be seen through the perspective of the gospel.

I will begin with a passage that most of us would use to present the gospel. Taken alone it may sound like nothing but law and judgment. But that is not really the case. This verse is a lift ticket to ascend the glory and grace of the gospel. The verse is Romans 3:23.

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

Few things can be so terrifying as darkness. So, aided by the enemy, we have become particularly adept at rationalizing the spiritual darkness that engulfs us. 2 Corinthians 4:4 says,

The god of this age has blinded the minds of the unbelievers so they cannot see the light of the gospel of Christ.

 For this reason it can be alarming for this reality to be brought home to someone by the Holy Spirit. It has been tempting for many of us to avoid putting people off with this truth. But I am convinced that people must come to awareness of the darkness before they can begin to long for the light. In the awareness of this darkness people begin to see the light of the glory of God.

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Laylat al Qadr (Night of Power or the Night of Destiny)
"The visions of your prophets were false and worthless; they did not expose your sin to ward off your captivity.  The prophecies they gave you were false and misleading."  - Lamentations 2:14 (NIV)
"For He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins."  - Colossians 1:13-14 (NIV)
Christians serving among Muslims suggest we keep these verses in mind as we pray regarding this topic:  Lamentations 2:14 and Colossians 1:13-14
Laylat al-Qadr [Night of Power]
"The Night of Power is better than a thousand months" (Surat al-qadr, 3).
Muslims believe that God revealed the first verses of the Qur'an during this night and that it is the holiest night of the year. Many will spend the whole night in prayer and devotion in mosques or at home, reading the Qur'an and hoping that their requests will be granted, specifically asking for forgiveness. A hadith promises, "Whosoever offers voluntary prayers during the Night of Power out of belief and expecting from Allah its reward will have his past sins forgiven" (Bukhari and Muslim).
Pray that Muslims will see their own sinfulness and spiritual disillusionment with the promises of Islam.
Pray Muslims will open themselves to true revelations from God.
Pray for opportunities for Christians to share about the forgiveness through Jesus and for Muslims to hear His voice.
Laylat al-Qadr is also translated as Night of Destiny. Muslims expect that their prayers during this night will change their destiny for the year. Many devotions are aimed at reaching a higher spiritual state, promising an eternal destiny closer to God. Many are experiencing dreams, visions, and other supernatural incidents.
Pray many Muslims will have dreams and visions of Jesus during this night.
Pray that Jesus will reveal His power through signs and miracles.
Pray that Muslims will experience the fullness of God in Jesus.
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Convicted by the Holy Spirit

Two Thai women came to our study group after having gone through almost the entire process of converting to Islam. They stated that when they got to the final step of conversion they could not follow through. They shared that something inside told them this was wrong and not for them. They returned to our bible study group more certain than ever that Jesus is the way. Praise God that He is moving by his spirit; convicting, protecting, and drawing people to himself. Pray that many will hear God's voice and follow the prompting of the Holy Spirit's leading.

A Prayer for Hope
With peace talks in Kuwait and fighting in the Hadramaut; news about Yemen continues to swing between hope and despair. Please pray for the people who are caught in the middle. Pray that their basic needs will be met. Pray that God will meet them in their suffering.
Pray also that the church of Jesus Christ would continue to grow among more peoples and in more places throughout the Arabian Peninsula as more and more have access to the Word of God, living & active.
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Preparation for Revival

“All the true revivals have been born in prayer. When God’s people become so concerned about the state of religion that they lie on their faces day and night in earnest supplication, the blessing will be sure to fall." E. M. Bounds

Many of us pray that God will send a revival among us. We intercede not only for ourselves, but for those around us, asking God to move in powerful ways. But what does revival actually look like and how should we pray?

My husband and I had the wonderful privilege of living in Wales for more than a year. A great revival swept through the land in 1904, making an impact on the nation—and the world—in a short span of time. We had the added blessing of visiting Moriah Chapel, the tiny church building where the Welsh revival broke forth. I was amazed at how insignificant in appearance the building is. Yet the power of God spread around the world from that humble place. Believers in Wales are praying for another mighty revival to touch their land, and we have been inspired to think, study, and pray much for revival since that time.
The topic of revival brings great interest to most of us because we long for God to sweep through our country. But we must realize that it is costly, and each of us must be willing to pay the price to prepare for it.

Behind the concept of revival is the Hebrew word chayah, which means “to live.” In Strong’s Concordance, the word is translated “make alive, nourish up, preserve, quicken, recover, repair, restore, save, keep alive and make whole.” Who among us does not desire that the Church be quickened, made whole, preserved and kept alive? We must pray with heartfelt passion for this to happen. And it will. When the Church is revived, she will be stronger and mightier against the powers of darkness. She will be a brighter light in this dark world. She will be victorious and attract the lost.     
When revival hit Wales, the whole community was shaken by the power of God. Crowds would go to the prayer meetings at 6:00 A.M. Because the Holy Spirit affected many people, the entire community was soon turned into a praying multitude. Evan Roberts, the young man greatly used in the Welsh Revival, would speak of four tenets or keys to walking in revival. These are helpful as we seek for personal and corporate revival in our own lives: 

  1. The past must be made clear by sin being confessed to God and every wrong to man put right.
  2. Every doubtful thing in the life must be put away.
  3. There must be prompt obedience to the Holy Spirit.
  4. There must be public confession of Christ.

We live in serious times. We need to cry out fervently to God, asking Him to revive His Church worldwide. We need to be in intensive prayer, asking God to move in our cities and nations. Studying the characteristics of revival will help us prepare both personally and corporately for a great move of God in His Church. Understanding the deep need to prepare our own hearts for revival and learning how to cooperate with God as He pours into the earth will keep us from hindering the move of God as it comes. The key phrase of the Welsh revival in 1904 was, "Bend the Church and save the world." 

The Human Characteristics of Revival

  • Spiritual preparation - Unity and prayer are two key elements needed for revival. We must pay this price of spiritual preparation. Revival will not come without a hunger and thirst after God that brings intense prayer. There must be a longing for His glory. We cannot be indifferent or apathetic but must rend our hearts with the cries that are born by the yearnings in God’s heart. Forty days after Jesus ascended to heaven, His followers obediently prepared for spiritual revival: "They all joined together constantly in prayer” (Acts 1:14).

    “Our essential trouble is that we are content with a very superficial and preliminary knowledge of God… we spend our lives in busy activism… The inevitable and constant preliminary to revival has always been a thirst for God, a thirst, a living thirst for a knowledge of the living God and a longing and a burning desire to see Him acting, manifesting Himself and His power, rising and scattering His enemies." Martin Lloyd-Jones

  • Conviction of sin - In true revival, people are seized with an overwhelming conviction of sin. Even the smallest sin seems big. Sin is not taken lightly, and God deals with both the saved and the lost. Revival is intensely personal; God convicts you of personal sin, and your soul is in the agonizing grip of a holy God. There is an encounter with God’s convicting power. "They were cut to the heart” (Acts 2:37).

    “The assembly appeared bowed with an awful conviction of their sin and danger. There was such a breathing of distress and weeping that the preacher was obliged to speak to the people and desire silence that he might be heard. Many of the hearers were seen unconsciously holding themselves up against the pillars and the sides of the pews as though they already felt themselves sliding into the pit.” Wallis

  • God-consciousness - In revival, there is a consciousness of God, an awareness of His holiness and power. On the day of Pentecost, “everyone was filled with awe” (Acts 2:43). People caught up in revival know without a doubt that God is there. They feel a divine magnetism toward His presence. 

    “There was nothing humanly speaking, to account for what happened. Quite suddenly, upon one and another came an overwhelming sense of the reality and awfulness of His Presence and of eternal things. Life, death and eternity seemed suddenly laid bare.” Winkie Pratney

May God prepare each one of us personally to pay the price for revival—the price of fervent prayer and allowing Him  to work deeply in our lives. Let us ask Him to make us conscious of His Presence and learn to abide in Him moment by moment. Pray that He will convict us of even the smallest sin in our life. Press on in prayer and fasting for revival in the nations. A worldwide end-times revival is going to be a glorious thing, but it will be costly.

We lived on a book exhibition ship for years. In some countries, thousands of visitors came on board daily. Long hours of hard work consumed our full attention. Are we ready for the demands of revival? God must prepare us, His Church, personally and corporately for the self-sacrifice that revival entails. May we not draw back but prepare to lay hold of this glorious end-time outpouring of God with all our hearts as the radiant Bride of Christ who is willing to sacrifice all so that people might be saved.
“Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains would tremble before you! As when fire sets twigs ablaze and causes water to boil, come down to make your name known to your enemies and cause the nations to quake before you" (Isaiah 64:1-2).

Intercessors Arise News

Debbie Przybylski
Intercessors Arise International
International House of Prayer (IHOP) KC Staff

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