An Alternative to Prayer

An Alternative to Prayer
And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray
and not lose heart. Luke 18:1

Here is an interesting article on prayer and worry by Lee McGlone.

Prayer.

Prayer is the alternative to worry. Instead of wringing our hands in a frenzy, we are to be busy at the great work of prayer. How glad I was, only a couple of months ago, when our liturgical dance team traveled to New York City and shared a word of hope in and around Ground Zero. When I watched the videotape of our young ladies reaching out to share the love of God in downtown firehouses, on street corners, with people in need, I was overwhelmed. They proclaimed the God of all comfort who comforts us in our affliction, who stands by us faithfully when the earth shakes and the mountains are cast into the sea. The video ended with these words from Jeremiah 31:13: “The young women will dance for joy. I will turn their mourning into laughter. I will give comfort—and exchange their sorrow for rejoicing.” As the video ended, I cried. I cried because what I saw wasn’t about a performance; what I saw was a prayer. It was a bold declaration of grace and the all-sufficiency of God to heal our deepest wounds. And I thought, in a troubled world like this there really is hope, as long as there are young people like this who so boldly declare faith in God.

          How often do we seek for an alternative to prayer?  We do every time we choose to worry.

Pastor Greg

Just Ignore the Owner’s Manual

Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth;
give me an undivided heart to revere your name.
Psalm 86:11

How foolish would it be to buy a new car, but then just toss out the Owner’s Manual?  Then when the light comes on the dashboard, just think it is a nice color or a cute picture.  We would call that practice foolish.

The Bible has been compared to an owner’s manual.  Not that it’s full of maintenance schedules, but that it is our Maker’s guide to us for living.  How often do we encounter a problem, but not seek the Lord’s answers to it?  How often do we simply ignore the warning lights of life, thinking it will get better sooner or later?  That is often how we treat the direction given to us by God in the Word of God.  The oil can symbol on the car is not a genie’s lamp for us to rub and get three wishes.  It is a signal that we have a problem and must follow the prescribed solution given by the manufacturer.  You may get the oil light to go off by putting water into the oil reserve, but the engine will not go much longer.

In Proverbs the admonition that there is a way that seems right to us, but the end of that way is the way of death (Prov 14:12; 16:25.)  That is the bottom line this week, are we going to do it God’s way, with God’s wisdom, and God’s righteousness; or we going to do it our way, that often does not end up very well? 

Pastor Greg

Leadership in the Kingdom of God

“Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?”
He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.”
He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” (John 21:15)

There are many discussions, books, articles, and opinions on leadership in the church.  If I were to dig through my old books, I am sure I have a half dozen volumes on pastoral leadership and leadership in the church.  I have gained insights and inspiration from much of this material.  Yet, biblical leadership really comes down to a fundamental concept, an overarching image.  That is of a shepherd.

Jesus calls himself the “Good Shepherd” in the Gospels.  And show us that a good shepherd protects, cares for, sacrifices himself for, and feeds the sheep.  In our text for this Sunday, 2 Samuel 5, David is made king because he demonstrates a shepherd’s heart for the people.  We can meditate on one of his most loved Psalms that begins with “The Lord is my shepherd.”  Then Jesus gives us hard-hitting teaching on being a shepherd of God’s people in John 10.  The contrast in John 10 is between the enemy that seeks to “steal and kill and destroy,” and God’s shepherd that seeks abundant life for the flock.

Leadership in the Kingdom of God is on many levels, including responsivities we take u in the church, as parents in the home, as supervisors on the job, of even the shepherd of you own soul.  In all these to be a successful leader, the qualities that God is looking for is that of a shepherd that feeds, tends, and protects the lambs of the fold.  Sometimes we call this “Servant-Leadership.”

“Do you love me?”  If our answer is yes, then our actions must be to “feed my lambs.”  Who are you tending to in the service of God?  What flock have you been placed in to care for those that are vulnerable?  How well do you feed Christ’s sheep?

Pastor Greg

How Do We Overturn this Present Evil Age?

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 
But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.
For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good,
and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.

What does Jesus tell us about justice in an unjust age?  The core of it is in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7).  We often think in platitudes when we read this radical charter of the Kingdom of God.  We spiritualize Jesus’ “turn the other cheek” to the place where we can give those that harm us their “what for!”  The meek inheriting the earth is not a euphemism.  It is the God-ordained order of God’s Kingdom.  But our lack of vision for the Kingdom of God is the reason we cannot fully embrace justice for the meek, the poor, and the grieving.  Our lack of vision keeps us from being those that hunger and thirst for justice, the peace makers, the sincere ones, and accept persecution for our justice seeking lives in the face of this unjust world.

Yet, Jesus isn’t satisfied with merely overturning this world. For the very essence of his critique — that we were created not merely for justice but also for love and life — is simultaneously the only possible hope for those enmeshed in the orders of the world.  Strength eventually fails.  Power corrupts.  And survival of the fittest leaves so many bodies on the ground.  Love alone transforms, redeems, and creates new life. As Martin Luther King, Jr., a student of both Jesus and Gandhi, once said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

This week we hear from David and how he responds to his mortal enemies being destroyed, and his competition for the throne of Israel being removed.  How do you respond when those that disagree with you finally get their comeuppance? 

Pastor Greg

Next meal 7/28/2024