Friday, August 31, 2012

The Lord’s Prayer and Works of Mercy

The Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:5-14) has been, since my college days, an almost constant companion.  As I have prayed it, it has challenged me, guided me, and comforted me.  It has provided structure and given direction for prayer times both private and corporate.  So, the youth group which I lead will be taking the next few weeks to study and pray the Lord’s Prayer together.  In our group times, we will take the Prayer phrase by phrase, seeking to understand just what Jesus was saying and doing when he taught his disciples to pray those words.  Individually, we will be challenged to pray the Lord’s Prayer in a different way each day of the week.  For instance, one day we will pray, “And give us our daily bread….” Our prayers offered that day will center on being thankful for what we do have while seeking to be content with that and seeking not to worry about what we don’t have.  It’s my hope that by praying and studying the Lord ’s Prayer that we might actually begin to believe it and mean what we pray, that we might truly believe that God is our Father, that we might truly want to do God’s will, and that we might participate in helping to bring God’s Kingdom here. 

So, for the next few weeks, I’ll try to post here the thoughts and insights we learn from praying and studying the Lord’s Prayer.  I’ll also post, when it is finished, the prayer guide we will be using for the Lord’s Prayer.  Perhaps you will pray along with us.  My guides for this journey have and will be N.T. Wright’s book The Lord and His Prayer, as well as John Wesley, especially his sermon Upon the Lord’s Sermon on the Mount: Discourse 6 (Sermon #26).  

Friday, August 17, 2012

Jesus Doesn't Want You To Be A Better Dad...

A few months ago, Jonathan Phillips, a Mission Corp Missionary with the Church of Nazarene came to visit our church.  Jonathan is a friend of mine, a former coworker, and classmate at Nazarene Theological Seminary.  He's been serving in Romania for the past few years on a volunteer basis.  On one Sunday, he shared with our church a simple story of friendship and discipleship.  What Jonathan is doing in Romania isn't anything profound or groundbreaking, but simple, time consuming, and apparently, very effective.  

Jonathan began his talk by reading one of my favorite passages from the Old Testament, the first part of Deuteronomy 6.  The passage itself calls Israel, God's chosen and rescued people, to remember all of what God has done for them and all of the commands that God has given them.  They aren't just to remember these things; they are to talk about them day and night, to write them on their door posts, and to tell these stories to their children at bedtime.  All of this remembering and storytelling is so that Israel could become and remain the people God had called them to be.  Israel cannot become what God wants it to become apart from the constant telling and retelling of these stories.