Sunday, July 24, 2011

No Difference Whatever

Great reminder from Martin Thornton in "Christian Proficiency":
"We must re-learn the essential truth that Christian prayer is rather like cleaning a car. When we are lucky enough to have a new one we wash and polish away with enthusiastic fervour, it is a devotional job. When the novelty wears off it becomes rather a nuisance and rather a bore, but we can still clean it efficiently, and here is one vital point: there is no difference whatever in the result."

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Paradoxes (The Valley of Vision)

O Changeless God,
Under the conviction of Thy Spirit I learn that
the more I do, the worse I am,
the more I know, the less I know,
the more holiness I have, the more sinful I am,
the more I love, the more there is to love.
O wretched man that I am!
O Lord, I have a wild heart,
and cannot stand before Thee;
I am like a bird before a man.
How little I love Thy truth and ways!
I neglect prayer,
by thinking I have prayed enough and earnestly,
by knowing Thou hast saved my soul.
Of all hypocrites, grant that I may not be
an evangelical hypocrite,
who sins more safely because grace abounds,
who tells his lusts that Christ's blood
cleanseth them,
who reasons that God cannot cast him into hell,
for he is saved,
who loves evangelical preaching, churches,
Christians, but lives unholily.
My mind is a bucket without a bottom,
with no spiritual understanding,
no desire for the Lord's Day,
ever learning but never reaching the truth,
always at the gospel-well but never holding water.
My conscience is without conviction or contrition,
with nothing to repent of.
My will is without power of decision or resolution.
My heart is without affection, and full of leaks.
My memory has no retention, so I forget easily the lessons learned,
and Thy truths seep away.
Give me a broken heart that yet carries home
the water of Grace.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Learning From The Wise Men

The wise men are some of the key figures of Epiphany. Not only did Jesus, the light of the world, reveal himself to Jewish shepherds but also to foreign "wise men". Some think they were seers or priests from Persia or modern day Iran, but obviously we don't know with certainty. What we do know is that they traveled great lengths following a star in the sky, convinced they were en route to meeting the king of the Jews, and the star led them to Israel. Not only that but we find out the gifts they brought to Jesus:

  • Gold
  • Frankincense
  • Myrrh
Some have said that each gift represents a different aspect of Jesus: gold for Jesus' royalty, frankincense for Jesus' priesthood, and myrrh for Jesus' sacrificial death. Others say that the gifts represent the best of culture. When I come to Jesus, do I come as the wise men do? Grateful that He's a sovereign king and I don't need to worry? Grateful that he's my perfect high priest interceding on my behalf? Grateful that He's my perfect sacrifice and I'm not trying to work my way back to him?

Would we all learn from the wise men to see Jesus as much greater and lovely! No gift is great enough for Him, he deserves the best we have.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

There is a time to born, and it is now (Walter Brueggemann)

There is a time to be born and a time to die.

And this is a time to be born.

So we turn to you, God of our life,

God of all our years,

God of our beginning.

Our times are in your hand.

Hear us as we pray:

For those of us too much into obedience,

birth us to the freedom of the gospel.
For those of us too much into self-indulgence,
birth us to discipleship in your ministry.

For those too much into cynicism,
birth us to the innocence of the Christ child.

For those of us too much into cowardice,

birth us to the courage to stand before

principalities and powers.

For those of us too much into guilt,

birth us into forgiveness worked in your generosity.

For those of us too much into despair,

birth us into the promises you make to your people.

For those of us too much into control,

birth us into the vulnerability of the cross.

For those of us too much into victimization,

birth us into the power of Easter.

For those of us too much into fatigue,

birth us into the energy of Pentecost.

We dare pray that you will do for us and among us and through us

what is needful for newness.

Give us the power to be receptive,

to take the newness you give,

to move from womb warmth to real life.

We make this prayer not only for ourselves, but

for our school at the brink of birth,

for the church at the edge of life,

for our city waiting for newness,

for your whole creation, with which we yearn

in eager longing.

There is a time to be born, and it is now.

We sense the pangs and groans of your newness.

Come here now in the name of Jesus. Amen.

The Christian Calendar

It's a new year, and it's been a long while since I've posted anything here. Balancing a few different outlets of social media has never been a forte of mine. However, since Advent kicked in at the end of 2010, I've been wanting to post some resources for those exploring the Christian Calendar year... The book I'm using devotionally this year is called "Living The Christian Year: Time to Inhabit the Story of God" by Bobby Gross.

I've read quite a few others in previous years, and while I'd still recommend other books, this book has been an amazing companion and guide on the journey this year. Gross starts out talking about discovering "sacred time" and how the calendar can continue to call us back into God's story and living within it and letting it help order our days. He starts with the season of Advent, gives us a brief yet thorough overview of what the season means & why it's important. He then offers devotional guides to help you pray & read Scripture that corresponds with that time (based of the Lectionary). It's simple yet effective.

Here are a few quotes for you:
"We want to inhabit the still-unfolding Story of God and have it inhabit us and change us. And this is exactly what the ancient liturgical habit of living the Christian year helps us do."

"Like 9/11, an ordinary day in our common calendars can become charged with memory and meaning, can become, in a way, hallowed."

"Each season suggests a spiritual choreography for our own lives. We perform movements that mirror God's: waiting, giving, telling, turning, dying, rising, and pouring out."
Pick up a copy and let it lead & remind of the much Greater Story we live in, and teach you to step in unison.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

"Resting On God" - Valley of Vision

This prayer has been deeply convicting and encouraging lately...
O God, most high, most glorious,
the thought of Thine infinite serenity cheers me,
for I am toiling and moiling, troubled and distressed,
but Thou art for ever at perfect peace.
Thy designs cause thee no fear or care of unfulfilment,
they stand fast as the eternal hills.
Thy power knows no bond, Thy goodness no stint.
Thou bringest order out of confusion, and my defeats are Thy victories:
The Lord God omnipotent reigneth.

I come to Thee as a sinner with cares and sorrows,
to leave every concern entirely to Thee,
every sin calling for Christ's precious blood;
revive deep spirituality in my heart;
let me live near to the great Shepherd,
hear His voice, know its tones, follow its calls.
Keep me from deception by causing me to abide in the truth,
from harm by helping me to walk in the power of the Spirit.
Give me intenser faith in the eternal verities,
burning into me by experience the things I know;
Let me never be ashamed of the truth of the gospel,
that I may bear its reproach, vindicate it,
see Jesus as its essence,
know in it the power of the Spirit.

Lord, help me, for I am often lukewarm and chill;
unbelief mars my confidence, sin makes me forget Thee.
Let the weeds that grow in my soul be cut at their roots;
grant me to know that I truly live only when I live to Thee,
that all else is trifling.
Thy presence alone can make me holy, devout, strong and happy.
Abide in me, gracious God.
If you're looking for more prayers like this, pick up a leather one or paperback.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

To make things new that never were - Walter Brueggemann

A prayer from Walter Brueggemann from his book "Awed to Heaven, Rooted in Earth" for Pentecost Sunday:

We name you wind, power, force, and then,
imaginatively, "Third Person."
We name you and you blow...
blow hard,
blow cold,
blow hot,
blow strong,
blow gentle,
blow new...
Blowing the world out to nothing to abundance,
blowing the church out of despair to new life,
blowing little David from shepherd boy to messiah,
blowing to make things new that never were.
So blow this day, wind,
blow here and there, power,
blow even us, force,
Rush us beyond ourselves,
Rush us beyond our hopes,
Rush us beyond our fears, until we enact your newness in the world.
Come, come spirit. Amen.