Friday, January 31, 2014

Thy Will Be Done...

"Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me;
yet not my will but yours be done." -- Luke 22:42

This quotation of Jesus comes from his praying in the Garden of Gethsemane.  Imagine the scene.  He's shared the Passover meal with his friends, his disciples.  He's predicted his betrayal, not only by Judas but by all of his disciples. 

Now he's gone a "stones throw" further to pray about what's about to happen.  He's in anguish and pain.  So much so, Luke tells us, " In his anguish he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down on the ground."  
NOW THAT IS SERIOUS pain and praying!

I grew up studying this scene depicted in stained glass.  There it was in beautiful color (save the blood) right above the preacher's head.  Framed between the pipes of the organ, Jesus knelt praying in earnest in the garden, "Thy will be done!"

But wait, too quickly we run to the "Thy will be done" submission part of Jesus' prayer.

Jesus asks a hard question of God, "If you are willing..."  

IF, how many times have we prayed that prayer... "IF, God, ... IF??"  If you are WILLING...
It's the same phrase the man with leprosy said in Luke 5:12-13,
While Jesus was in one of the towns, a man came along who was covered with leprosy. When he saw Jesus, he fell with his face to the ground and begged him, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” And immediately the leprosy left him.
Now the same prayer is on Jesus' own lips as he prays, "Lord, if you are willing, let this cup pass from me."

It's a good prayer, a faithful prayer, a prayer we need to pray everyday... "Lord, if you are willing..."

Perhaps the better question is:
Are we willing?
Are we willing to share with God our fears and doubts, our needs and pain?

Jesus does, so should we!  Job does; he doesn't hold back.  Neither does the writer of the Psalms; read Psalm 22. Nor does Jeremiah; see Jeremiah 20:7-11.

So let us too be honest with God in our prayers.

Then and only then, can we move to join Jesus in praying, "Thy will be done."

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Thy Kingdom Come... in a real and tangible way

"I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed." -- Genesis 12:2

This week's prayers and reflections focus on the "Thy kingdom come" petition of the Lord's prayer.
But I was most struck by the statement: 
Resolve to bless at least one other person in a tangible way this week.

TANGIBLE... how to make God's blessings real and tangible...
Or asked another way: how to help make Christ's reign come on earth RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW.

Then I thought of a quotation I heard recently from Teresa of Avila (1515–1582). 
(Thank you Rev. Andy Smith, pastor of Clarkton Presbyterian Church!)

"Christ has no body but yours,No hands, no feet on earth but yours,Yours are the eyes with which he looksCompassion on this world,Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,Yours are the eyes, you are his body.Christ has no body now but yours,No hands, no feet on earth but yours,Yours are the eyes with which he lookscompassion on this world.Christ has no body now on earth but yours."

How many times have I prayed and asked God
to change a situation
or make something right
or be with someone who was lonely or suffering?

It's a good prayer, an important prayer, an intercessory prayer, perhaps even a righteous prayer.
But did I put "feet" on my prayer?

Perhaps sometimes WE are the answer to our own prayers.  Maybe God's will, God's answer to my prayer for someone else, was for ME to get off my knees and work to change the situation, to make that something right, and to go BE WITH the lonely and suffering.  

Maybe God's will, God's answer to the prayer, was for me to be CHRIST's BODY here on earth.

I think of the words often prayed at the celebration of the Lord's Supper:
"Pour out your Holy Spirit on us gathered here,
and on these gifts of bread and cup.
Make them be for us the communion of the body and blood of Christ,
that we may be for the world the body of Christ,
redeemed by his blood."
That we may be for the world the body of Christ.

Or as another of my favorite prayers ends by saying:
"When our eyes open again,
may we do so not to end our devotions
but to expect your kingdom come,
for Jesus' sake. Amen."
Let us make Christ's love REAL and TANGIBLE for others.
It's in your hands and feet, God's own for the world.

Questions for reflection: (share your thoughts in the comments below)
  • Where have you seen TANGIBLE evidence of Christ's reign in your life this week?
  • How do you need God to intervene in the real circumstances of your life to bring his reign in an even greater measure?

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

We Belong to GOD

Week 1 -- Pray Daily: Igniting Our Passion for God

Psalm 100 (NRSV)
1 Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth.
2 Worship the Lord with gladness;
come into his presence with singing.

3 Know that the Lord is God.
It is he that made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise.
Give thanks to him, bless his name.

5 For the Lord is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.

We Belong to GOD
Vs 3 invites us to claim the fact that "God made us and we are his".  In other words, we belong to God.  We are not our own.  Our identity does not come from the fact that we have made ourselves into something, but rather that we are made (and are being made) BY GOD.  

I am reminded of what Paul writes in I Corinthians 6:19-20 "Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body."

Also I think of what the Heidelberg Catechism teaches:
Q. What is your only comfort
in life and in death?
A. That I am not my own,
but belong—
body and soul,
in life and in death—
to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ.
He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood,
and has set me free from the tyranny of the devil.
He also watches over me in such a way
that not a hair can fall from my head
without the will of my Father in heaven;
in fact, all things must work together for my salvation.
Because I belong to him,
Christ, by his Holy Spirit,
assures me of eternal life
and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready
from now on to live for him.

"I am not my own but belong, body and soul, in life and in death, to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ"  Wow! what a powerful statement.  The implications of how I treat myself, my body, my mind, my spirit... If they are realy not mine but belong to God, then don't they deserve the best... how I eat, sleep, what I watch on TV, whether or not I exercise... All of that becomes part of my relationship with God.  YIKES! and COOL! all at the same time.

In the end, the answer to the first question of the catechism points us in a helpful direction: "Because I belong to him, Christ, by his Holy Spirit... makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready from now on to live for him."

WHOLEHEARTEDLY willing and ready to live for him!!  YES! 
So cue the music...
now is the time to be passionate for the GOD who is PASSIONATE for YOU!

I encourage you to share your thoughts to these questions below:
What does it mean to know that you belong to God?
In what ways would you act differently, choose differently, invest your time, your passions, your life differently?
What is ONE thing in your life that needs to be prayed for?

Online Bible study & Prayer

Today I am starting a blog related to a Bible study I am offering at Elizabethtown Presbyterian Church where I serve as pastor.  See more about the church here:

The Bible study is Pray Daily: Igniting Our Passion for God.

a 90-day praying journey together

For more information or to order your own copy see:

So this is my first attempt at a blog.  And my first attempt at a Bible Study online via blog.

My hope is to share some reflections and invite you to reflect on your own passion for God.
Each blog post will end with some questions for your reflection.
I encourage you to share your thoughts as well.  But don't feel limited to use words! share a picture, a video, a link... whatever might add to the conversation!

Let's begin!