When I was in eighth grade my church gave me a brand new black Bible with red-colored edges and my name embossed in gold on the cover. It smelled fresh, and crackled when first opened. I felt a special connection with this Bible.
I tried many times to read that Bible, from page one to the end, like a book “ought” to be read. But frustration grew as I got bogged down in Leviticus, and then completely stalled out in Numbers. So most of the pages of that Bible remained clean, but I was vaguely glad to have it on my shelf.
When I was seventeen someone gave me a New Testament in a fresh new version that was very easy to read. I had met some lively, enthused college-age kids who saw the Bible as a book full of life and light.
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?
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…
A PRAYER FOR THE POOR AND DOWNTRODDEN (from Prayers for Our Lives: 95 Lifelines to God)
[download a PDF of this prayer here]
“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
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.
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
“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
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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.
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.
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.
[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.
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.
Follow up: you are invited to a 4-week email series with many more teachings about prayer, and resources to help. More info HERE.
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)
[Earlier posts in this series about responding to atheism:
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
Your kingdom come, your will be done . . .
The second part of the Lord’s Prayer, this manifesto of theism, says, “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (v. 10). If you pray that, then you are saying, “I believe God is a ruling king. He is leader over what he has created, he has a plan, and he knows how it all is supposed to work, so that means that he knows how my life is supposed to work. When I am confused or feel strung out or discouraged or feel like giving up, he is the Protector and the ruling Sovereign.
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name . . .
The Lord’s Prayer begins simply: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name” (v. 9). Now you could say nothing more than that and have a belief system that fills in the deep cracks and fissures of atheism or materialism. Four truths: There is a God, He is personal and benevolent, He is above and apart from this finite world, and He is great and worthy of adoration.