Praying in Jesus’ Name (p1)

It flows so naturally from our lips:  “In Jesus’ name, amen.”

I do it all of the time.  Most Christians do.  But what do we mean by this tag-phrase to our prayers?

I’ll offer my thoughts in a future post.

For now,

Do you end your prayers in Jesus’ name?  Why?

What explanations have you heard for this practice?

What happens if we don’t?

Examining our rituals helps maintain their significance.

Led by the Spirit into the Wilderness

Lent is the season when many Christians pattern their life after the temptations of Jesus. Jesus fasted from food for a period of time thus we can give something up as well.

“Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil.  He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry.”  Mt. 4.1-3

Ash Wednesday is the day our journey into the wilderness begins as we remember our mortality–from dust we came and dust we shall return.

The idea is to create a void in your life.  When you remove something normal and regular in your life you miss it.  In that moment when you normally would enjoy a cup of coffee or a bite of chocolate you now enjoy God instead.  Perhaps you feast upon his word my memorizing a Psalm (might I suggest Ps. 103) or soak in his presence by praying the Lord’s Prayer.

Lent can be humbling and frustrating because it brings us face-to-face with our lack of discipline and how little things have attached themselves to our lives.

The key?  Jesus was “led by the Spirit into the wilderness.”  Lent is to be a work of the Spirit in our life.  Thus we don’t participate in lent out of tradition or reject it because we think it doesn’t apply to us.  Rather, we simply ask God to reveal to us what he desires for our life and respond to his leading

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.  See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”  Ps. 139.23-24

Ask God today if there is anything he desires to remove from your life for a season so you might grow closer to him. Let us listen for the Spirit.  Let us listen for his still small voice.

The Essence of Grace

God loves you and there is nothing you can do about it!

That’s the essence of grace.

God loves you.  What a radical statement.  God loves me.  What a scandalous sentiment.  God loves us.  How preposterous!

“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly…But God demonstrates his own love for us in this:  While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Rom. 5.6 & 8)

Donald Barnhouse said it so well, “Love that goes upward is worship; love that goes outward is affection; love that stoops is grace.”

In light of this, “Jesus Loves Me,” may be the most revolutionary song ever written.

(If you don’t have time to watch the whole video then just listen to the first 5 minutes and then skip to the 9:00 mark)

Pray For The Persecuted…Are We Ready For This?

“Blessed are those who are persecuted…” Mt. 5.10

Zakaria Hussein Omar, Jama Muktar (17 years old) and Juma Nuradin Kamil were all decapitated because they were Christians.  (Read the story here)

Unfortunately, stories like these are not unusual.  Jesus told his disciples to expect adversity.  He even went so far as to say, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first…No servant is greater than his master.  If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also.”  Mt. 15.18ff

Let us pray for our brothers and sisters around the world who live in fear because of their faith.

Let us prepare.  I hope I’m wrong but I believe that this kind of persecution is coming to America within our lifetime.  I’m not talking about stockpiling weapons and food so that we can hunker down.  Quite the opposite.  Jesus called us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute. (Mt. 5.44)

Are we ready to love lavishly?

Lingerie Model Calls It Quits

The story has been well publicized.  Victoria’s Secret lingerie model, Kylie Bisutti, calls it quits for God and husband.

Her reasoning:  “My body should only be for my husband and it’s just a sacred thing.” and “I didn’t really want to be that kind of role model for younger girls…”

Watch her appearance on ABC News here

I love her decision!  It’s great when young Christians (all Christians) seek to bring their life in line with their beliefs.  She inspires me to continue to examine my own heart and life.

We as Christians face choices like this everyday.

Have you ever had to choose your faith over your vocation? Would you change your career for you spouse?

Call Me in Six Months!

Stop dating…for six months!

That’s the idea behind  P. B. Wilson’s book, “Knight in Shining Armor: Discovering Your Lifelong Love.”

While the book is primarily for women, men can benefit from the concepts too:

  • Take six months to focus on your relationship with God and make sure that he is number one in your life.  Begin to see members of the opposite sex as brothers and sisters in Christ and not just potential spouses.
  • A “no dating pledge” frees your mind from the all-consuming pursuit of trying to find a spouse and you begin to just see people as people.  During this time you that there is a difference between loneliness and being alone.
  • In addition, to focusing your relationship with God, you can also give attention to being content with yourself so that when you do find that special someone you are not looking for them to satisfy some deep need in your life that no human fulfill.
  • You could also use the time to come up with your “Future Spouse Checklist”–Those qualities and characteristics that are non-negotiable for the success of a lifelong covenant relationship

Award winning blogger, District Diva, took the pledge and has been chronicling her experience here:  The Dithering of a District Diva

The Pledge looks like this:

Lord, I want You to fashion me for my prospective husband/wife.  I commit the next six months of my life for Your construction.  I will surrender any area which is not controlled by You so that my life will bring You glory.

Ladies, what would happen if you said, “Call me in 6 months” to every guy who asked you out? Sure would weed out the men from the boys, wouldn’t it?  A guy who is willing to wait six months just for a date with you is a serious-minded man who understands your true value.

For the record, if you think six months is a long time, I had to wait six years for my first date with my wife!

My beloved Barbara was worth every minute!

How can we help those who are struggling with addictions?

With the passing of Whitney Houston it is natural to think not only of her gift but her struggles.  Drugs and alcohol got the best of her.

So let’s have a discussion about how to help those who are struggling with addictions.

If there is someone struggling in your life is there anything you can do?

I know there are incredible programs for people who want help.  For example, we at Colorado Community Church have a vibrant Celebrate Recovery gathering that meets every Friday night so that you can find help with life’s hurts, habits, and hang-ups. (More Info. here)

That being said, what do you do if you are the person watching someone struggle?

Is there anyone willing to share from personal experience?  What works?  What doesn’t?

Thanks, in advance, for your willingness to help us learn and grow through your story.

robert

Help me!–Blog Topics and Ideas

Now that I have the new blog up and running I’d love your input.

What would make you want to check it out regularly?

What topics do you want me to write about?  Current events?  Politics?  Spiritual matters? Parenting (Ya know, we have six kids!)?  Jazz & faith?  Interviews? (if so, who?) Movies?  Books?

What makes you want to read?  What makes you want to comment?

Let’s create a great space of dialogue and engagement.  Let this be a safe place where we don’t have to have all of the answers yet a willingness to ask the tough questions.

Let me know what you want!

A Prayer for Today, A Prayer for Life

O God,

I know that if I do not love Thee with all my heart, with all my mind, with all my soul and with all my strength,

I shall love something else with all my heart and mind and soul and strength.

Grant that putting Thee first in all my lovings I may be liberated from all lesser loves and loyalties, and have Thee as my first love, my chiefest good and my final joy.

George Appleton, Oxford Book of Prayer

(Note:  It’s worth clicking on the picture above and praying the prayer again)