A Prayer for Thanksgiving Day

from Prayers for Our Lives: 95 Lifelines to God for Everyday Circumstances

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Philippians 4:6

Dear God,

You have invited us to give you thanks, and this is what we wish to do. We are living in a time of great anxiety, but you have offered us a way out of anxiety. We long to know your loving care.

Make or break: will we get good spiritual leadership today?

Why vast numbers of believers must exercise spiritual leadership where they live.

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.

Suckers and Presidential Debates

a non-partisan comment on our political process

A sucker is born every minute. Supposedly P. T. Barnum, the ultimate circus showman, said this, though no one can prove it. All I know is this: I just don’t want to be one.

And yet, in this political circus in which we find ourselves, millions of people are being played as suckers. But it does not have to be.

Praise to Christ the Lord

from Prayers for Our Lives: 95 Lifelines to God for Everyday Circumstances

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.)

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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.§

Amen.

__________________

*The 7 “I am” passages are John 6:35-51; 8:12; 10:9; 10:11-14; 11:25; 14:6; 15:1-5.

* Acts 3:15

† John 10:10

‡ Colossians 1:20

§ Philippians 3:10-11

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How to Influence People FOR GOOD

a serious exploration of the topic of spiritual leadership today

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Today we’d like to invite you to a learning experience aimed at helping you have an enduring and deep influence in your work, your family, and your church.

This is simple. We’d love to have you join in a serious exploration of the topic of spiritual leadership today. To join in you just need to do two things:

STEP 1: Get the newly released Zondervan paperback Spiritual Leadership Today: Having Deep Influence in Every Walk of Life* HERE or at the online source

Be the first to know…

“Spiritual leadership means awakening people to the creatures they really are in Christ. It is like rousing armies of people who are asleep to a great work they must do.”

Spiritual Leadership Today

BE THE FIRST TO KNOW…

Later this month The Brook Network will offer an online leadership development seminar with Mel Lawrenz for church leaders, parents, educators, leaders in business settings, healthcare workers, community leaders, etc.

Dignity Now

Why is this not obvious?

Ninety-nine percent of a human body consists of six elements: oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, calcium, and phosphorus. The remaining one percent consists of minor elements and trace elements. If you purchased these chemicals on the market, you would have to spend a bit more than $100.

Most of us believe people are worth more than $100.

Yet not everyone. The Nazis considered Jews, homosexuals, Poles, mentally ill people, and others to be of no worth whatsoever. Of negative worth, in fact, worthy only of extermination since they were viewed as a net deficit in the human race.

Crisis of Dignity

an opportunity for moral clarity - Op-Ed in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

The acts of violence we are witnessing, and the political acrimony we are experiencing have much in common…

Blood on the ground produces panic and confusion and rage, but is also an opportunity for moral clarity. We are watching it all right now. The blood at a traffic stop, the blood of assassinated police officers, the blood of men, women, and children run over by a terrorist driving a truck.

Moral clarity begins with the question of what preceded the blood.

Lessons in Prayer, part 3

A barber asks his pastor how to pray

Clip, clip  Snip, snip. Clumps of thick Saxon hair fell around the man’s shoulders and dropped to the floor. The barber, one Peter Beskendorf, engaged his customer in one more conversation about spiritual matters. “Pastor,” he said, “how should I pray? How long should I go on? What exactly should I say?”

We don’t know what the man in the chair, Dr. Martin Luther of Wittenberg, said, but we do know that Peter Beskendorf’s questions prompted Luther to write a small book called A Simple Way to Pray.

Lessons in Prayer, part 2

Prayer as Spiritual Awareness

[In the light of recent tragic events, there is a “Prayer for the Nation” (video) below.]

[This is part 2 of Lessons in Prayer. Part 1 is here.]

When we speak to God a certain awareness of our relationship with God is pressed upon our minds and hearts. It begins to happen the moment prayer begins. It is rooted in the profound fact that we are actually speaking to and listening to Almighty God. Slowly, incrementally, with each passing day, with each sincere prayer, we are rehearsing certain truths about our relationship with God, not just because the truths are verbalized, but because they are enacted. Through the progressive soul-shaping dialogue with God we gain a spiritual consciousness that we are under God, we are with God, we are in God, and we are for God.

Lessons in Prayer, part 1

Prayer is about Knowing God

Peter Marshall, the Scottish-American pastor who was also Chaplain to the United States Senate, offered this prayer about prayer in the 1940’s:

Lord, teach us to pray. Some of us are not skilled in the art of prayer. As we draw near to thee in thought, our spirits long for thy Spirit, and reach out for thee, longing to feel thee near. We know not how to express the deepest emotions that lie hidden in our hearts.

Real Prayer

how prayer works in good times and in bad times

Follow up:  you are invited to a 4-week email series with many more teachings about prayer, and resources to help. More info HERE.

SERMON OUTLINE

1. Prayer and Our Relationship with God

  • Prayer as position: “we are under God”
  • Prayer as presence: “we are with God”
  • Prayer as power: “we are in God”
  • Prayer as purpose: “we are for God”

2. Prayer in All Circumstances of Life: James’ Final Words

  • Praying when we are in trouble (5:13)
  • Praying when we are happy (vs. 13)
  • Praying when we are not well (vss. 14-15)
  • Praying when we are guilty (vs. 16)

Theistic Manifesto: the Lord’s Prayer, part 3

reasons atheism does not work

[Earlier posts in this series about responding to atheism:

God Forgives 

Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive . . .

“Forgive us our trespasses” (v. 12). Now you can be an atheist and believe in repentance and forgiveness, but they can never amount to anything more than a reconciliation between human beings. That would be a good accomplishment and better than nothing. But there are a couple of major problems. First, how high is the motivation for reconciliation between us and other people? If there is no God, if there is no moral absolute above us and apart from us, why should I go through the work of seeking forgiveness or granting it for that matter? An atheist may argue that reconciliation and peace is a better state of affairs because reducing injury between people or groups is a more desirable way to live. But