A Psalm and a poem by Wendell Berry in the aftermath of the Newtown tragedy.
from Psalm 5 (NIV)
Listen to my words, Lord, consider my lament.
Hear my cry for help, my King and my God, for to you I pray.
In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice;
in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.
For you are not a God who is pleased with wickedness;
with you, evil people are not welcome.
The arrogant cannot stand in your presence.
You hate all who do wrong; you destroy those who tell lies.
The bloodthirsty and deceitful you, Lord , detest.
But I, by your great love, can come into your house;
in reverence I bow down toward your holy temple.
Lead me, Lord , in your righteousness because of my enemies—
make your way straight before me.
But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy.
Spread your protection over them,
that those who love your name may rejoice in you.
Surely, Lord , you bless the righteous;
you surround them with your favor as with a shield. (Psalm 5:1-12 NIV)
The Peace of Wild Things, Wendell Berry
When despair grows in me
and I wake in the middle of the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting for their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
NOTE: A Boston band, Crooked Still, put this poem to music that you can listen to here.
How do you take seriously God’s heart for all peoples? How do I make prayer for the nations a part of my ‘Rule of Life,’ my Game Plan for being a disciple of Christ?
Many years ago, an ambitious project was started with the first edition of Operation World – A global digest of facts and prayer needs for the mission of God in each nation of the world. It is now in its 7th edition.
There is a website of resources and links and available resources to download. You can also connect to be part of this world wide movement of prayer.
I urge you to visit this website. Buy the book or download the ebook version or start by receiving emails on each nation. Let your heart be touched with Jesus’ heart for all peoples! If you need more motivation, read this short article called Understanding Prayer in the Light of God’s Kingdom.
One other free resource, available on-line you should know about and read every other month. It’s called Mission Frontiers, from the U.S. Center for World Mission.
E. Stanley Jones was a Methodist missionary in India for 50 years! Jones had relationships with leaders from all the major religions of India – Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, etc. He wrote an incredible book about Gandhi after the death of the Hindu leader. Mahatma Gandi: An Interpretation was published in 1948. In chapter 5, “Gandhi and the Christian Faith,” Jones records Gandhi’s answer to a vital and still relevant question for our time and place: “What would you, as one of the Hindu leaders of India, tell me, a Christian, to do in order to make Christianity naturalized in India (not a foreign thing)?” Gandhi’s response was brilliant and concise. Here are his answers and some of E.S. Jones comments on them:
“First, I would suggest that all of you Christians, missionaries and all, must begin to live more like Jesus Christ. Second, practice your religion without adulterating it or toning it down. Third, emphasize love and make it your working force, for love is central in Christianity. Fourth, study the non-Christian religions more sympathetically to find the good that is within them, in order to have a more sympathetic approach to the people.”
Jones makes these powerful comments: Continue reading Gandhi on Sharing Jesus’ Gospel (You have to read this!)
I believe the Spirit of God is re-invigorating the “Whole-Person” focus of Jesus that has characterized the best of Missions throughout church history. Sunday at Christ Church, was week 7 of “So You Want To Change The World?” (click here for teaching notes and audio download.) We introduced the concepts of “flat world” and “Glocal = Global + Local” as they relate to the church. I referenced a World Missions article from Mission Frontiers magazine out of the Center for World Mission. All the articles from the Sept/Oct issue are available here on line. I highly recommend the articles by Christopher Wright (“The Mission of God”) and Ralph Winter (“The Future of Evangelicals in Misson.”) Continue reading Being a ‘Glocal’ Church in a Flat World
Jesus told parables to help us fight against easy answers. The Good Samaritan story was his response to a testing, rationalizing expert in the Law who wanted to DEFINE a neighbor more than learn (in Jesus’s School of Discipleship) how to BE a neighbor. Part 6 in our series, So You Want To Change The World, is linked here at the Christ Church sermon resource page. You can listen to or download the audio or read the text of the teaching. It focuses on 2 questions: Continue reading Tough Neighbor-Love Questions
Recently I have referenced the small explosion of new books on Atheism – a whole section in Borders Books. Cynical and “in your face” rants on the evils of belief. I’m reminded of Frederica Mathewes-Green describing her agnostic years as a person “angry at God for not existing!”
As usual, there is good that can come from entering conversation instead of building motes and castles. Speaking of Faith is one of my favorite websites and podcasts because of the quality of conversations about faith and culture. The October 18, 2007 edition is called Beyond the Atheism – Religion Divide. Check out the great resources in addition to the interview with Harvey Cox.
Prayer is continual dependence on God; getting my will in line with God’s will. Two teachings on the Lord’s Prayer from our current series (So You Want To Change The World?) are available in audio on the Christ Church website – linked here: Part 1 and Part 2.
Two catechisms that give good description of the Lord’s Prayer are Luther’s and the Heidelberg. I mentioned Martin Luther’s little booklet he wrote for his barber. It lays out a method of using the Lord’s Prayer as a pattern for meditation and prayer that I have used for many years. The book is in print from Westminster Press. You can read a summary version here:
Continue reading The Lord’s Prayer – “The Prayer that Changes the World”
Many thanks to Rabbi Amy Levin for loaning me her Shofar. My trumpet playing days allowed me to pick up the nuances of the shofar sounds. The audio tape of the Sunday, September 23rd teaching (including the shofar!) was titled The Joy of Repentance. It is linked here for convenience. Or go to the Christ Church site under Resources/ Sermon Archives for all sermons on audio as well as detailed notes for the current series, So You Want To Change The World? This has been a week focusing on repentance. As evangelicals, we have the tendency to talk about repentance or turning from sin and toward the Lord as something connected to initial conversion. Like grace, it is so much more – and ongoing as we become more like Christ. Here are some helpful links to go deeper: Continue reading Repentance- The Joyful Wake-up Call
What will it look like to mobilize the full potential of Christ Church?
Here is the full schedule of Teachings and Events:
Sept. 16, Wk #1 The Jesus Creed – Loving God and Loving Neighbor cannot be separated. The Three Journeys. “Christ Church Discovery Expo” (sign-ups for Small Groups and Classes)
Sept. 23, Wk #2 The Joy of Repentance – Worship will be a Service of Prayer and Repentance. Week of Prayer. Congregational Meeting on Saturday, Sept. 29. Opening of the new “Welcome Center.” Childrens and Jr/Sr High classes begin.
Sept. 30, Oct 7, Wks #3 & #4 The Prayer That Changes The World – The Lord’s Prayer as a pattern for spiritual formation and reaching the world.
Oct. 14, Wk #5 Fasting For the World – Fasting is about more than food; God’s heart for the world’s needs.
Oct 21, Wk #6 Who IS My Neighbor? – The Good Samaritan revisited – The questions that will define us.
Oct. 28, Wk #7 Needed: “GLOCAL” Churches – How to be the Church in a “Flat World” – Why our mission is both LOCAL and GLOBAL.
Nov. 4, Wk # 8 SO – You Want to Change The World? – Next steps in mobilizing our full potential.