Occasionally, in this life, we face treachery, as we did sixteen years ago on September 11, 2001 when airliners were turned into weapons by treacherous men carrying out a treacherous plan. Psalm 25 says “they will be put to shame who are treacherous without excuse.” Today we may pray with the psalmist: “To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul; in you I trust, O my God. Do not let me be put to shame, nor let my enemies triumph over me.”
[This text adapted from a message originally given the weekend after 9/11/2001 at Elmbrook Church.]
Psalm 25 begins with these words:
To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul; in you I trust, O my God. Do not let me be put to shame, nor let my enemies triumph over me. No one whose hope is in you will ever be put to shame, but they will be put to shame who are treacherous without excuse
On some days evil men with evil intent wantonly destroy scores of people. Unthinkable. Shameful. Diabolical.
There is a word for this: treachery. But what do you do on the other side of the terrorist’s attack? What can we say in the face of pure treachery?
Confederate statues are quickly emerging as the focus in the national strife we are in. There is a great danger here. Symbols are important, but not as important as what they symbolize, frequently requiring interpretation. 500 years ago Martin Luther was deeply troubled when he heard about crowds tearing down statues in Wittenberg because
The violent clash in the beautiful city of Charlottesville should prompt us to think through and insist on basic moral leadership at all levels in our society. The alternative is unthinkable. Some thoughts…
Our society needs moral leadership now.
Moral leadership is not a function of public relations.
Moral leadership must use words to clearly identify evils and virtues where they exist.
Moral leadership must be more than words; it cannot be reduced to slogans or catchphrases.
In I Want to Believe, Mel Lawrenz ignites a latent desire in all of us–the desire to believe in something bigger than ourselves. Lawrenz takes an honest dive into topics that are true areas of tension–doubt, rebirth, faith and action, and the essence of Christian faith. A fresh and engaging style draws readers into an unexpected conversation in which they receive concrete, concise descriptions of Christian faith in principle and in real life, and are shown contrasts with other faith alternatives. The chapters are skillful interweavings of narrative, illustration, and biblical reflection. Throughout the book, readers are assured that doubts are part of believing and that hardships in life do not contradict faith. For believers and seekers alike, I Want to Believe will fan the flame of faith and affirm the quest for believing.
Oh, Eva, Eva, my sweet daughter. I so want to talk to you, and I so want to talk to other people about you. My heart is torn and empty and full–all at the same time. How can that be? I know that you fell into the arms of your loving heavenly Father when you died 14 days ago, though how I wish it were my arms. Maybe it’s okay that I write a few words to you, and maybe it’s okay that I let other people hear what I want to say. I don’t want to brag about you, which you would not have approved of. I want to shout out about the joy you brought to me and Mom and Christopher and so many others.
On this day we rejoice in the glory of resurrection.
The tomb is empty.
Death could not hold the Lord Jesus. His body saw no decay. His enemies did not win. The earth could not contain him.
We are emboldened by the power of resurrection.
We are encouraged by the hope of resurrection.
We are enlightened by the truth of resurrection.
So help us, dear God, to have a daily expectation that we will encounter the living Lord Jesus wherever we live.
Help us to live in submission.
And empower us to bring this message of resurrection into every dark and desperate corner of this world.
In the name of the resurrected Lord Jesus.
In the days leading up to Easter we want to contemplate and understand more fully the suffering death of the Lord Jesus whereby we are forgiven and his glorious resurrection whereby we are empowered to live.
A temporary ban on refugees being admitted to the U.S. has put the spotlight on their plight. Few of us know what it is to lose our homes, our friends, our land, our belongings, and any sense of security. To lose identity, and dignity. Let us pray for the refugees—men and women, boys and girls—wandering the earth…
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
Gracious Lord in heaven,
When we consider the misery and suffering of so many millions of people in the world today, we are overwhelmed
Occasionally I go to Bob and Win’s house to have them pray for me. I feel greedy doing so, because I know that even without that request, Bob and Win pray for me every day. And I mean pray. They talk to God the Father and Jesus and the Holy Spirit; they pour out their hearts. That has to be one of the main reasons they are the compassionate, generous people they are. They look at other people, and they see, with a precise vision, their real need. And they see the grace of God all around.
There is a view of leadership today that is disappointingly simplistic: merely getting people to do things. Many are successful in their efforts. They can get people to give money, attend large meetings, vote a certain way, develop a group identity, even to sacrifice. These are good things, but are not the apex of what Christian leaders are called to do.
A higher view of leadership includes higher purposes. This leadership aims at great aspirations, brilliant ideas, and high ideals. It aims at the betterment of people—their character and dignity, not just their pocketbook and status. It is committed to transformation. This is spiritual leadership—spiritual because it is empowered by the Spirit of God and its ends are spiritual vitality and growth. And the amazing thing is that God uses us even in our brokenness and sinfulness to lead people toward this transformation.
It is easy to say we want to be Christ-centered, but the way we think and behave betrays the fact that we are most often Christian-centered. Churches that are only church-centered will never be Christ-centered. The remedy, in part, is to reserve time, energy, and desire, dedicating them to contemplating and worshiping Jesus Christ every day. This prayer, “Praise to Christ the Lord” (text and audio below) uses the seven “I am” passages in John, and other New Testament texts. (From Prayers for Our Lives.)
Audio version, read by Alice Kinyua of Nairobi, Kenya –
Praise to Christ the Lord
Lord Jesus Christ, we adore you and praise you. Where would we be without you? We long to live in your glory and your goodness.
You identified yourself with God the Father when you said “I am.” You explained your life and purpose by saying…
“I am the bread of life”*—and so we know we live through you.
“I am the light of the world”—and so we no longer live in the darkness of evil and ignorance.
“I am the gate for the sheep”—and so we know we are protected from spiritual predators.
“I am the good shepherd”—and so we are well fed, and led, and protected.
“I am the resurrection and the life”—and so we can live above the fear of illness and death.
“I am the way, the truth, and the life”—and so we see a clear way forward toward abundant life.
“I am the true vine”—and so we know staying connected to you is the most important priority we must have.
Lord Jesus, you are “the author of life.”* You came so that we may have life, and have it to the full.†
We can stand before God the Father because of your great sacrifice. You made peace through the blood of your cross, in order to reconcile all things to yourself. ‡
We are overwhelmed. We are in awe. We are humbled. We wish to worship and follow you all the days of our lives. We want to know you—yes, to know the power of your resurrection and participation in your sufferings, becoming like you in your death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.§
*The 7 “I am” passages are John 6:35-51; 8:12; 10:9; 10:11-14; 11:25; 14:6; 15:1-5.