PRAYER IN TIMES OF CONFLICT

This week I had occasion to pray something I learned over thirty years ago from my pastor at the time, Mickey Rorex.man-praying[1][1].jpg

Ever since then I have found it to be one of the most meaningful and transformational prayers I can pray when I find myself at odds with someone. I suggest everyone commit it to memory and make use of it. Often.

Lord-change me, change them, or change the situation. Amen.

Shorter prayers are usually better prayers, and this one is to the point. Don’t bother telling Jesus all that is wrong with the other person (or group of people) and why your cause is just. Just get to the point of what needs to happen if life is to have joy in it.

A PRAYER FOR THE FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL

Both of the sprouts start their junior year today, the oldest in college, the youngest in high school. It seems appropriate to pray today.

Great and mighty Lord, let me start my prayer off with the big stuff. Please do not let there be any school shootings anywhere this year. If someone tries, let them be stopped long before innocent lives are cut short. Please let those in positions of leadership stop squabbling over such things as who uses what bathroom, and instead focus upon the stuff that really matters–like grammar, mathematics, science, and history. Still thinking about big stuff, Lord, I ask that teachers will earn their value–not just the lowest amount we can get by with–and I’m okay with taking some money away from athletes, movie stars, and corporate tycoons to do it. Oh, and while I’m at it, convict every school district in our nation that teachers should not have to buy the supplies for their classroom.

Now let me get to what might be thought of as smaller stuff. I pray for all of my children’s teachers to be the kind of teachers that inspire, motivate, and encourage. Please keep the ones that just show movies all day long away from my two daughters, and especially keep the ones that like to demean religious people (like that history teacher a couple of years ago) or argue politics or make my daughters cry by saying mean things, far far away from them. Let those kinds of tea9049675_orig[1]chers all decide to quit and do something else.

I also pray, Lord, that all the athletes will be safe for all their games and that no one will get hurt.  I ask that the coaches care more about the character development of the athletes than wins and loses, and so too will the fans. I pray that the chess clubs, debate clubs, science clubs, and fine art departments will be just as supported and funded as the athletic departments.

I pray that bullying not happen at all. I ask for Junior High to not be painful for anyone, especially those that feel different, odd, or out of place.

I pray that SAT and ACT scores go through the roof, that everyone graduates, and no one goes to school hungry. I pray for moms and dads to be very involved in every facet of their children’s learning.

I pray for parents who homeschool, and their children–that the unique challenges and wonderful opportunities afforded by that choice will be a blessing.

For universities, I ask that such silly things as trigger warnings be left behind, and that instead colleges be places where people’s values are challenged without their personhood or safety threatened. I pray for transformation of individuals in college–positive transformation into critical thinkers and leaders who will help us solve the problems around us, not slip into the morose of sameness that seems to be spreading so quickly.

One more thing Lord–I pray that money, or the lack thereof, never keep anyone from getting the quality education they need. I mean this at the district level in a way that every school district, no matter how rich or poor, gets ample resources. I also mean this at the college level–that no student will be forced to rack up insurmountable debt just to graduate.

There are so many things that could be better about the way we educate in our nation, but there are also many things that are right. Thank you for committed teachers, careful bus drivers, wise administrators, and dedicated school boards, who work so hard to make certain every child is loved and cared for. And I thank you for the gift of learning and discovery, which you have made to be part of the human experience.

In the name of Jesus I do pray. Amen.

 

 

 

NEW FACEBOOK TECHNOLOGY?

Facebook frightens me.  Apparently they have developed some “Next Level” skills.  Check out this ‘reminder’ they gave me over the weekend.

PicsArt_19769.391532875This reminder leads me to believe that they have developed some kind of Jedi mind trick, telepathic portal, or Vulcan mind meld because I can’t for the life of me think how I can send my friend good thoughts.  I can wish her a happy birthday.  I can send her a gift.  I can send her a card.  I can pray for her.  I can ignore her.  What I can’t do is send my thoughts to her.  Unless, of course, they’ve developed a new app for that.  Which, if they have, now we can add that to the list of things FB does that annoy us:  “You have 1,123 game requests, 5,493,393 pokes and 7 thoughts waiting for you.”

Ugh.

I know what they mean, those feel gooders in Zuckerberg’s army, but please cut the metaphysical garbage.  People can have good thoughts, but they can’t send good thoughts.  Facebook may think it is a spiritual portal to enlightenment, but I assure you, it is not.

ROMANS 12 FROM THE GREEK TEXT

Less theology, more behavior.  That is what happens with the beginning of Romans 12.  Paul gently moves the reader from his dense theological musings into the realm of practical application in everyday life.  Of course, he makes this transition with one of the most fascinating lead-ins ever:  Romans 12:1

Translation Notes:

There is not a whole lot to discuss on the translation side.  The chapter is pretty cut-n-dried.  However, it is interesting to note that the word “fervent” in verse 11 is closely associated with the word for “boil”, which is quite the word picture for spiritual life.

The chain of gifts (vv 6-8) is not as easy to handle as it might seem.  There is no easy flow from noun to verb, as seemingly each verb has some kind of different application.  For that reason I worked it over thoroughly to make it fit English grammar.

Theological Notes:

A Bible student could spend a decade trying to figure out what exactly verses 1 and 2 are all about.  I will only, therefore, make a couple of observations here.  First, the center of Christian worship is not about rituals or dead animals.  In worship there is something about denial, self-sacrifice, discipline, patience, and even mortification, but this worship is not dead but alive, and it is physical.  Worship is done with our living bodies.  Second, worship is more than our bodies, it is also what happens in our minds.  We must exercise control of our thoughts and transform (metanoia, as opposed to paranoia) the way our minds work.  That indicates to us that the Christian life is reasonable, logical, and driven by conscience choice, not bleeding hearts.

Some might parse out verse one as being about worship while verse two is about discipleship, and that might be correct, but Paul might rightly ask us what is the difference?

Verse 21 is sobering to me.  The world is filled with evils, and as followers of Christ we are not called to simply endure them or to tolerate them, but to overcome them.  We do not overcome them with worship or with prayer, which is odd.  We do not even overcome evil with scripture.  These are the things we would think we would need to overcome evil–worship, prayer, and the word.  But no, worship, prayer and the word are the building blocks (c/f v. 2 for knowing the will of God) that inform us what is “the good” we should do in the world.  It is our actions in the world that defeat evil.

Chapter Twelve

1. Therefore, I encourage you, brothers and sisters, because of the compassion of God, offer your bodies as a living sacrifice that is holy and acceptable to God, your thoughtful act of worship.
2. Do not model yourself on this age, but be transformed in the renewal of the mind, so as to determine what the good, acceptable, and perfect will of God is.
3. I speak to all those among you by the grace given to me, do not think highly of yourself but think reasonably, each one by the faith God has given.
4. Just as we have many members in one body, but every member does not have the same function,
5. so in Messiah we are many in one body, but as individuals we are members of one another.
6. By the grace given to us, we are given different gifts. If it is prophecy use it in proportion to faith,
7. if service then as a deacon, if teaching as a teacher,
8. if encouraging in encouragement, if sharing in sincere generosity, if leadership in diligence, or if one has mercy in gladness.
9. Love without pretense. Abhor evil. Cling to good.
10. Let sibling-type love be tenderly affectionate among you. Lead out with honor for one another.
11. In diligence do not be timid. Serve the Lord with a fervent spirit.
12. Rejoice in hope. Endure distress. Continue faithfully in prayer.
13. Contribute to the needs of the saints. Pursue hospitality.
14. Bless the one persecuting you. Bless and do not curse.
15. Rejoice with those rejoicing. Cry with those crying.
16. Think of one another as the same, not arrogantly, but be associated with those who are humble. Do not be too thoughtful of yourself.
17. Repay no one evil for evil. Think ahead about what is honorable in the eyes of all people.
18. For your part, if possible, live at peace with all people.
19. Do not vindicate yourself, beloved, but rather put wrath in its place. For it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I myself will repay,’ says the Lord.”
20. But, “If your enemy is hungry, feed him, if he is thirsty, give him something to drink, doing this heaps fiery coals upon his head.”
21. Do not let evil conqueror you, but instead conquer evil with good.