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Posts Tagged ‘prayer’

Prayer Shaming in a Culture That Has No Shame.

compare and contrastThere is a debate over so-called “prayer shaming,” which Emma Green of The Atlantic described this way very early in the story: “Anger about the shooting was turned not toward the perpetrator or perpetrators, whose identities are still unknown, but at those who offered their prayers.” She wrote: There’s a clear claim being made here, and one with an edge: Democrats care about doing something and taking action while Republicans waste time offering meaningless prayers. These two reactions, policy-making and praying, are portrayed as mutually exclusive, coming from totally contrasting worldviews.

Obviously that was written a few days ago before they knew who had done what but think about what is being said here.  “Doing something” as I have said before, when said by a politician is a cause for prayer.  God help us when politicians want to do something.  That covers both Democrats and Republicans.

The idea of prayer shaming however is a very serious business.  It shows the divide and the wedge being driven between this culture at all levels, especially in media and politics, and Christians.  The idea of media or politicians mocking prayer would have been unthinkable just a few years ago.  The first amendment is being attacked on every level of this society and actually being given up without a fight on college campuses.  The evidence is strong that neighbors knew something was wrong in California with the Farook’s but they were afraid of saying anything for fear of being called a racist.

There is also a danger that the public actually starts paying attention to when politicians “do something” and when they refuse to “do something”.  Why hasn’t anyone “done something” about the Veterans Administration?  IRS?  Immigration?  We should study what they do as well.  The mess we are in with our health care and insurance is on display because someone in Washington did something.  Hilary’s foray into “Gun Control” was on display in Benghazi.

Christians are being marginalized and many of their views are being labeled extreme.  Much of that comes with help from the so called main-line churches who gave up their Christian witness years ago and have simply become purveyors of “justice”.  “Justice” in this case means political correctness. It is the kind of justice that kept the neighbor in San Bernadino who saw something from saying something.

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The “Always” of Advent. Thoughts on Irene in the Phillippines.

1 ThessIt occurs to me about very month or so that preaching is a dangerous business.  I’m glad it occurs to me only about every four weeks or so or I probably wouldn’t do it anymore.  It is a nerve wracking experience as it is but to think of it as being dangerous can be debilitating.  I’m not joking about this like I do with some things.  Preaching is a great privilege.  It is also a great responsibility and it is terrifying.  God wants His Word to be spoken.  The foolishness of preaching is the way God chooses to deal with the world.

I spent a lot of time thinking about yesterdays blog and Irene from the Philippines, who by my count, gives thanks in the midst of a very depressing and scary situation, at least eight times in a very short note.  We have the 3rd Sunday in Advent coming up and that marvelous  lesson from Thessalonians – 1.  “16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise the words of prophets, 21 but test everything; hold fast to what is good; 22 abstain from every form of evil. 23 May the God of peace himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do this.”

I want to preach this text.  I want to crawl into the pulpit and really let go.  Paul tells you to rejoice and pray and give thanks always, and you folks can’t even rouse yourself out to church once a week to give thanks for anything, even the good stuff.  We have people around the world that live in the most difficult situations giving thanks over and over again and meaning it and you complain and become bitter and angry when the hockey team loses, or the weather gets too cold.  You don’t know the meaning of rejoice.  You don’t know how to give thanks.  You treat prayer as if it were the key to the great candy store in the sky and when you don’t get your way you pout.  Paul says that this is the will of God for you and you have proven over and over that not only do you not do the will of God, you don’t care what His will is.

O yeah, this text will preach.  But here is the danger – do I really want to say that?  Yes I do!  Is it really true what I want to say?  I think so, and by the way I include myself in the “you folks”.  But is that what Paul is saying?  There is the danger.  I dare not get my message mixed up with God’s.  When I preach I must be able to say “Thus saith the Lord”.

This text and may Advent texts are really about the coming of Christ at the end of the age.  The gift we get from God is that because of Jesus death and resurrection we are living in the end time now.  We are free to be thankful because the old has passed away and the new creation of God is here in Christ.  We are free to be always rejoicing because that is what our hope has confirmed in us.

Of course we are not being told to keep a set of rules or regulations or perform to make a preacher happy! This is not a command that must be fulfilled. This is not a chance for the Pastor to rant and vent his frustration with empty pews and declining attendance.  Rather, Paul is showing the work of the Spirit in the church which is the place that God has chosen to dispense His gifts.  In the midst of life that seems to be falling apart and days that grow darker and darker, it is the Spirit’s work that produces and sustains prayer and rejoicing  and thanksgiving. We have come to call these things “fruits of the Spirit”.  They are always connected with the church, the assembly, the called out ones.

That is why all these folks that say they believe in Jesus, they just don’t go to church are deluding themselves.  They are solipsists.  Sadly their numbers are growing.

More on this and mission, worship and even praise throughout the week.

 

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