Friday, July 21, 2017

Praying With Eyes Wide Open

It all began by accident.  A father and daughter are out on a walk.  They decide to pray together and in the next moment father knocks over daughter and they both fall to the ground. It turned out that when he began to pray father closed his eyes, as most if not all Christians do.  Obviously, it's a bit difficult to walk with your eyes closed.   However, this form of prayer provided a discovery for father and daughter - praying with eyes wide open.

That story sets up the premise of Sherry Harney's new book on prayer.  She makes the convincing point that praying with eyes open can add a new dimension to a person prayer life.  She recounts all the different ways that God's people pray.  But there is not one Biblical admonition that one must pray with eyes closed.  Praying with opened eyes engages the senses in an entirely different way.

Harney writes in the introduction: "Praying with our eyes open...allows us to see what is happening around us and engage in prayer in new ways.  Rather than closing our eyes to block out the world, we open our eyes, like Jesus did.  We see the need and pain as well as the beauty and joy all around us. What we see shapes our prayers."

Harney writes in an easy engaging style.  The book is filled with Scriptural references to prayer and also includes a number of stories about people who found that praying with eyes opened enhanced their prayer life.  If your prayer and devotional time has become routine and humdrum, you just might be blessed by "Praying With Eyes Wide Open."

Thursday, July 20, 2017

This is the way I always imagined it.

Jesus is dead, crucified on a cross. His body is buried in a borrowed tomb.

The devil gathers his minions and they celebrate.  What Satan could not do in the desert, at the beginning of Jesus' ministry, when he spent 40 days throwing every temptation imaginable at Jesus, he has finally done, working through the jealous Pharisees and the cowardly Roman governor.

While toasting themselves with hot toddies (because all drinks there are hot!) Jesus suddenly appears in their midst, very much alive.

According to the Apostles' Creed, "He descended into hell." Thus began Jesus' exaltation.

He is victor over death and sin and the devil.

Jesus now sits at the right hand of the Father.  But one day He will return to this earth "to judge the living and the dead." Come, Lord Jesus!

Until then, we wait with hope.  We believe in "the resurrection of the dead and the life everlasting."

The devil's banner is torn down.  Jesus is very much alive - "the resurrection and the life."

Praise Jesus!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

No, nothing can separate us from God's love in Christ!

"For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

So positive is Paul of the truth of his words that he resorts to poetic hyperbole in listing all conceivable crisis.  Today we might say: "I am persuaded that neither sickness nor death, neither poverty nor want, neither unemployment nor enforced idleness, neither an unfaithful spouse nor wayward children, neither family bitterness nor rancor, calamity nor disaster - nothing shall be able to separate us from the love of God which we have found in Christ Jesus, our Lord!"

Does this sound too abstract, too theological? By no means! When the crisis moment is upon us, when all human resources have failed, when all "helping hands" have proved devoid of help - how soul-sustaining it is to know that standing at our side is the loving, caring, omnipotent Redeemer, from whom nothing can ever separate us. When despair would overtake us, let us turn to Him; let us walk with Him and talk with Him. He will grip our hand more firmly and lead us where His love would take us. In Him is our salvation.

Herman Gockel, "Daily Walk with God," page 384

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Revenge never works

Vengeance is a passion to get even. It is a hot desire to give back as much pain as someone gave you...The problem with revenge is that it never gets what it wants; it never evens the score. Fairness never comes. The chain reaction set off by every act of vengeance always takes its unhindered course. It ties both the injured and the injurer to an escalator of pain. Both are stuck on the escalator as long as parity is demanded, and the escalator never stops, never lets anyone off.

Lewis Smedes, quoted in "What's So Amazing About Grace," page 115

Monday, July 17, 2017

The Perfect You

"The Perfect You," the latest book from Dr. Caroline Leaf, is not an easy or quick read.  It's not a book that you'll leisurely read while relaxing on the beach.  It's not something that you can plow your way through while the kids are creating chaos in the house.

For example, Dr. Robert Turner, the author of the Forward to the book wrote: "As a neuroscientist, I love chapter 5...Dr. Leaf helps us understand the anatomical and physiological underpinnings of our particular ways of thinking, feeling and choosing. I appreciate how she weaves together three interrelated disciplines: neurospirituality, neuropsychology and neurophysiology." Whaaaaaat?

I found it a great challenge to read chapter 5 and all the material before it.  The technical and scientific jargon was difficult for me to understand. More interesting and helpful was the Unique Qualitative (UQ) Assessment tool in chapter six.  There are about 100 questions that are designed to help the reader gain an understanding of who they are and how and why they react to things as they do.  Again, this section will not be completed in 15 minutes.

I also struggle with the title of the book.  There is no perfect "you." That perfection was lost in the fall of the garden.  Because of our sinful human nature there will never be a time in life when the perfect feeling and thinking "you" will show up.  However, for the person who struggles in living life day by day, "The Perfect You" could be helpful for understanding one's self and learning how to overcome those moods, feelings and circumstances that make one feel less than perfect.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

A Prayer...for Christ to Love Through Your Heart

O Lord, live in me. My Your love beat in and through my heart. May You speak through my voice. Jesus, be the strength of my soul and the fire that purges wrongs from my desires.  Fill me with Your great abounding grace. In Jesus' name.  Amen.

From "God is With You Every Day," page 193

Worship this weekend at Life in Christ - 5 pm today or 8 and 11 am tomorrow.

God bless your weekend!

Friday, July 14, 2017

Rooting for Katherine Kirk!

This weekend the LPGA Open Championship is being played and our family is rooting for Katherine Kirk.

She won the Thornberry Classic in Green Bay last weekend.  My son in law is the COO of the golf club and worked over a year to bring the event to the area.  Over 50,000 spectators attended throughout the week.

Kirk won by one shot.  She made clutch shots and putts when she needed to.  Sherri and I cheered when she sank a 10 foot putt on the 72nd hole to clinch the victory.

But what really impressed us was the fact that she is a believer in Jesus and wasn't afraid to show it.

Her yardage booklet had printed in bold letters "John 3:16." It was seem numerous times throughout the television coverage.

And she marked her golf ball with a cross and 3:16 written next to it.

My son in law and daughter met and spoke with Katherine after the tourney.  They said that she was warm, welcoming and spent time to talk with each of them and all the people that wanted to congratulate her on her stellar play.

Kirk shot 2 under par in the first round of the Open.  She trails the leader for four shots.

We're hoping she'll be gunning for the championship this weekend.  And hoping that her yardage book will be on display.