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Archive for the month “December, 2013”

Scripture prayer for healing

There’s a lot to be said for praying scriptures back to God.  Here’s a prayer for healing (physical or otherwise).

“Lord, you told Hezekiah he was going to die. When he cried out to you, you spared his life (2Kings 20:1-7). Lord, as I’ve come before you with nothing, praying, seeking your face, and turning from my wicked ways, you promise you will heal (2Chron. 7:14).  Be merciful to me, heal me. You have seen my soul has been in anguish (Psalm 6:1-3). I call to you for help and you’ve healed me. Bring me up from the grave and spare me from going down into the pit (Psalm 30:2). Deliver me in this time of trouble, and restore me from my bed of illness (Psalm 41:1-3). For you forgive all sins and heal all my diseases and redeem my life from the pit (Psalm 103:1-5). Restore me to health and let me live. Surely it has been for my benefit that I suffer such anguish. In your love keep me from the pit of destruction; put my sins behind your back. From the grave I cannot praise you. Living, I praise you (Isa. 38:1-21).  Heal me, guide me, and restore comfort to me (Isa. 57:18-19). Heal me, O Lord, and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved, for you are the one I praise (Jer. 17:14). Heal all of me, lead me with the cords of human kindness, lift the yoke from my neck, and bend down to feed me (Hosea 11:3-4). By your Son’s wounds am I healed (Isa. 53:4-5, 1Peter 2:24).

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Duct Tape and Denim

I wrote a little piece for Duct Tape and Denim. This is my sister-in-law’s page. She sells upcycled and vintage jewelry and also has a blog. A few days ago they started the Twelve Days of Christmas. For 12 days they will be addressing such things as hope, love, faith, life, and more. I wrote about forgiveness. Check it out!  (They’re also doing a giveaway).

Christmas

For some of us Christmas is over. For my family we have one more side of the family to go to after the new year. This year was a particularly fun Christmas season. My mom and sister stayed with us for almost a week. Our pantry and refrigerator looked like Bilbo Baggins’ did in the first Hobbit movie – before the dwarves ransacked it. We played a lot of board and card games. And what’s a good game night without a lot of banter back and forth? We had a lot of that too.  It was a good Christmas.

Today I thought I’d reflect on some reading I did. A while back I flipped through the rest of the New Testament  looking for scripture celebrating Christ’s birth.  Did you know that when you look at how early Christians celebrated Christmas in the early church you find…. nothing?

God put in His Word what he wanted us to focus on. Does it ever seem to you that us modern Christians make a proverbial golden cow out of the holiday? A pastor friend of mine said, “[Jesus] calls us to live in his resurrection (Easter) but our culture is consumed with his birth.” Baby Jesus grew up and moved on from His nativity scene to his ministry and Kingdom. Could that be an example for us to follow?

We have a whole year until the next Christmas (unless you count that Christmas ramps up in October).  I’d like to be more focused on Jesus during all of that time, than I have in the last few weeks.

That said, I hope each one of you had a great holiday season. Blessings to you this coming new year and may God draw you closer to him in 2014.

Which “kingdom” are we fighting for?

This is an issue I wanted to avoid getting into. You know the scenario: Famous person says something anti-gay and people throw a fit on both sides.

I’m referring to A&E’s dismissal of Phil Robertson.

As extensions of Christ, we’re not told to be battling for our country, for morals, or against a group of people. We’re told to be salt and light (Matt 5:1-16). Wage the war against Satan’s schemes – not the people deceived by them (2 Cor 10:3-4).

We must maintain an eternal perspective in situations like this. What’s at stake isn’t America. It’s the eternity of those who haven’t yet been saved. In the end Duck Dynasty, Phil, A&E, conservatives, liberals, and America itself will be gone. The Kingdom will stand forever. How much time and energy do we spend:

  •     In deep prayer over the GLBT community that the veil of deception be lifted (Matt 5:44).
  •     In deep prayer for ourselves that God may show us how to love our neighbor as we would love ourselves.
  •     Learning apologetic and scientific arguments of why the Bible is true. So that when the skeptics make fun of our Book (as they are today), we can refute their skepticism with something other than “I just believe.”
  •     Learning scientific, biological arguments to why homosexuality isn’t natural or normal. If someone doesn’t believe what the Bible says about anything in the first place, throwing a verse out of Leviticus isn’t going to change their mind. (Check out NARTH for more information)
  •     Getting indignant over the sheer state of lostness of this world; of people in the U.S.A. Not because they have views we don’t like, but because what’s at stake is much bigger than a nation.
  •     Seeking the Kingdom of God first in our own lives, before anything else going on in our lives.

I don’t agree with A&E’s decision either. Phil, and the rest of us, have a right to speak about our beliefs.  I really don’t agree with how the Body of Christ spends so much concern on America and our culture when we’re to be about the already existing and unstoppable Kingdom of God.

Thoughts on Sandy Hook and humanity

Today is the one year anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. This incident lead to months and months of heated debate over gun control vs. gun owner rights. That same day a man stabbed 24 people at a Chinese school. While there were no fatalities you can be certain the emotional and psychological trauma is still causing pain, just as it is in Newtown.

When these events occur there’s always debates and discussion on how to prevent tragedy from occurring again. Our society, especially lawmakers, seem to think that if we place more boundaries on people (gun control, curfews, more security, more restrictions) then it will make us a safer people. Like ibuprofen brings down a fever, these measures do work, to a degree. They are not a solution though.
We get sick because of an infection caused by a virus or bacteria. We treat the symptoms with medicine (e.g. ibuprofen for pain and fever). We might feel a little better but the only way we feel well is when the invading germs are gone.

We can make laws to corral ourselves into a fenced area and tell ourselves, “These are our boundaries.” It might prevent humans from being inhuman to other humans, but I doubt it. Men’s hearts invent all sorts of evil (Ps 140:2, Mark 7:21-22). That’s why humanism is a dead-end philosophy. It’s why the idea of following one’s heart is a path to nowhere. This stuff happens because of a corrupt heart (Jer 17:9) and only a spiritual transplanting of the heart can fix it. Education won’t. Money won’t. Being “good people” won’t either.

Consider the passages:
Psalm 51:10 “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.”
Psalm 119:2,10 “I seek you with all my heart”
Proverbs 3:5 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding”
Ezekiel 11:19 “I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh.”
Matthew 22:37-40 “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind”
Romans 5:5 “because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”
Romans 10:9 “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

I’m not talking about reading the Bible, going to church, and trying to be better people. I’m not talking about being religious. I’m talking about throwing up our hands, knowing our hearts are corrupt and we can’t fix them. Then allowing  God, through belief in those passages to give us new hearts. That’s where real change will start.

Truth takeaway: The problems with this world (even with some who call themselves “Christians”) is a dead heart. From that dead heart we seek life through our own wisdom and knowledge of what we think is best – we follow our hearts. The only way to get real life is to ask God for it and believe we will receive it directly from God himself.

Scripture prayer for marriage

Here’s a prayer you and your spouse can pray over your marriage:

“You have called us to be one (Gen. 2:24) How good and pleasant it is when a brother and sister live together in unity (Psalm 133:1). Use both of us to draw the other towards holiness (Eph. 5:26).  May we always lead a blameless life before you (Psalm 101:2).

Enable us to do something that’s difficult: submit to one another out of reverence for Christ, giving ourselves up for one another, out of love for each other (Eph 5:21; Col. 3:18-19). Show us how to feed and care for each other as the other one needs (Eph 5:29). Let us rejoice in each other (Prov. 5:18). Let us love one another in a way that our love burns like a mighty flame – a flame that cannot be quenched or washed away (SoS 8:7).

Remind both of us that we are each others’ (SoS 2:16). Let us desire only each other (SoS 7:10). We confess we are not independent of each other (1Cor. 11:11), no do we belong to ourselves, but to each other (1Cor 7:4). May we always fulfill our marital duties to each other, whatever those duties may be (1Cor 7:3).

May you give us the desires of our hearts, and make all our plans succeed (Psalm 20:4). We consecrate our marriage as a whole, that our marriage be honored, and our marriage bed be kept pure (Heb. 13:4).”

Ministers a.k.a. People

We found out today that the pastor of our church for the last 15 years is leaving to do God’s work elsewhere. My wife brought it to my attention that for almost all of our married life Russell has been at that church. He came there as a music/youth pastor a year after we were married. Later, when the first pastor moved on, he slid in to the role as pastor.  Even though we weren’t members there we both had family there so we knew him and he knew us. When we moved back to the area in 2007 he welcomed us back even though we attended church elsewhere.

A few years later we were still attending a different church when my mother-in-law became terminally ill. During those few months Russell was helpful and easy to open up to. One month later when my grandfather, a long time deacon of that church, died he was there again. We eventually moved back to that church and a large selling point was Russell. He also later helped us through some of our own personal and marital turmoil.

I have a lot of respect for him because he carries himself like a normal guy. He’s what a pastor should be: just a person doing what God’s got him doing. No robe, no self-aggrandizing title of “Dr,” no mundane theological sermons. While he has a unique and unenviable role in the Kingdom, he realizes that he is still just one part of the whole. He’s not the church, the church body is the church and he’s here to help and lead. I like that. It forces me to realize that I’ve got a ministry role somehow too. And I need to be doing that.

The “truth” takeaway from this: Pastors and ministers are a lot of things to their people. And they are also people. The difference between them and us is that they’ve surrendered their life and livelihood to further God’s Kingdom. The thing is, we’re all supposed to do the same thing.

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