At the point of crisis, we usually don’t engage in deep theological reflection. But later – after the unexpainable suffering, we silently and maybe even outloud, begin to question how this prayer business works. Peter Grieg, who’s wife died very young, begins his excellent and honest book by pointing to Jesus:
In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus is wrestling for His life, in prayer. The location is significant: “Gethsemane” literally means “the Oil Press,” and for Jesus it has become a place of intense pressure – spiritually, emotionally, and physically. When life threatens to crush us, we too may wrestle in prayer. If God is our loving Abba, Father, for whom everything is possible, why – we may wonder – does He not just remove the cup of suffering? Does He really care? Is He really there? I don’t know the shape of your unanswered prayers – we each arrive in Gethsemane by different paths – but here’s how it happened to me… (God on Mute: Engaging the Silence of Unanswered Prayer) Gerald Sitzer had a similar experience seeing his wife, He wrote A Grace Disguised, and later When God Doesn’t Answer Your Prayer. You can read an excerpt from a Christianity Today article here. Continue reading Elephant in the Room: The Mystery of Unanswered Prayer
The teaching on resentment touched alot of nerves. You can download the morning and Sanctuary (evening) version – in which I shared much more personally about my own experiences – by going to the Christ Church sermon archives. A summary of some definitions of resentment:
Resentment is “COLD ANGER” (hot anger can be over quickly)
Resentment is the “ANGRY VIRTUE” of self-righteous people.
Resentment is my anger that THINGS AREN’T HAPPENING THE WAY I WANT
“Resentment is drinking poison and hoping the other person dies!” Resentment builds up and sits there and gets so pervasive that we don’t know how angry we are and we’re not in touch with the fact that we’re unhappy, jealous, bound up. We are deeply lost when we are resentful. Lost in a much deeper way. Much harder to heal. It’s become a way of life – a way of being. Continue reading The Elephant of Anger and Resentment
In our summer series, “The Elephant in the Room,” we first look at Money. We will apply the 6 Act Drama concept of scripture to each Elephant in the series.
Consumerism has been called “The Cult of the Next Thing.” The essay “Trapped in the Cult of the Next Thing,” by Mark Buchanon and is available here. In Matthew 6:19-24, Jesus calls us to check our hearts and our eyes as it relates to possessions and Kingdom priorities . If Money is one of the idols – gods of this world, then Jesus wants us (in the words of Dale Bruner in his commentary on Matthew) to become the real atheists to the secular gods of consumerism, successism, pride in possessions, self-serving, overspending, and indifference to needs…” Continue reading Elephant #1 – Money: Servant or Master?
My working definition of an “Elephant” is an issue that we’re in denial about; defeated by; or – afraid to ask about – and need to submit to Jesus (to effectively address). Jesus called people to face elephants throughout his ministry, often by asking provocative questions: “Who do people say that I am?” then “Who do YOU say that I am?” (Mark 8) To the woman being condemned by self-righteous religious leaders (who get humbled by Jesus questioning their integrity) he says, “Where are they? Has no one condemned you?” Neither do I – from now on, sin no more.” ( John 8 )
John 5 is the story of the disabled man who has waited 38 years beside a pool known as a healing place. Jesus asks a question that at first seems ridiculously obvious, “Do you want to be healed?” (or, “Do you want to be made whole?”) Continue reading The Elephant in the Room – Jesus and Elephants