Saturday, May 2, 2015

Praying the Prayer Jesus Taught us to Pray

Many years ago I was a part of a church that was into so called spiritual warfare. It involved having prayer meetings where we "took authority" over demonic powers and principalities in the name of Jesus. We would "pull down" demonic strongholds in our prayers and "cast down" Satan's minions in order to take back our city for God. In fact I remember reading a book that greatly impacted me regarding how the Church could take back its city from the powers of darkness. It was deeply
disturbing to me to find out later that the author was in deep bondage to drugs and homosexuality while he was teaching the Church of Jesus Christ how to take back their cities for Christ. It seemed that his own methodology had failed him.

About two years ago I attended an ecumenical prayer gathering at a local church and again I found myself at a gathering of Christians who were going to "take back that which the devil had stolen". The pastor shouted at dark forces, made declarations of faith before God and the heavenly host, and urged the congregation to unite their faith with his for our city. After about thirty minutes I could not take it anymore, so I left. This past year our city was named as one of the most violent cities in America. Why is that? Is it because people like me do not have enough faith in the weapons of our warfare?

So how should we pray for our cities? As I recall, we are not the first generation to ask the Lord about prayer. His disciples asked Him to teach them to pray (Luke 11:1). And thankfully, He did not leave them on our own to figure things out for ourselves. In Matthew 6 and Luke 11 He answers that request for them and for us. In my upcoming posts I am going to take a look at what we have come to know as the Lord's Prayer. But for now, allow me to say a few brief introductory words about this prayer.

First, Jesus gave His instructions specifically for the purpose of discipling His followers in the proper way to pray. In Matthew's account it is clear that He expected prayer to be a vital part of His followers lives. You see that in the simple phrase, "And when you pray" (v.5), not, "And if you pray". And second, Jesus, more than anyone else, knew the value of a life invigorated by prayer (Luke 4:42, 5:16 and 6:12).

As a Reformed Christian, but especially during my tenure in the Anglican Church, I have developed a deep appreciation for the Lord's Prayer and it's place in the life of the Church. I hope to share some of that with you in the coming weeks and months.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Some Musings About Technolgy and the Local Church

This morning on my way to church I listened to a wonderful sermon by a nationally known preacher. Modern technology has given us inexpensive, easy access to gifted expositors of God's Word. My personal iPod is filled, not with music, but with sermons by men like Dr. Leithart, Steve Wilkins, Alister Begg, John MacArthur and R.C. Sproul. On that same iPod I have Max McLean reading the Scriptures as only he can. What a blessing from the Lord!

While it is true that technology has provided us with the means to hear God's Word preached or read any time of day, I often wonder if it has also caused many Christians to not care about the quality of the local pulpit. So what if the pastor can't preach? We can turn on the radio, log onto our computer, or turn on our iPod and hear a sound message from a pastor on the other side of the country. I spoke with a man last year who confided in me that he did not think any of the pastors at his church could preach and yet, the idea of looking for a place where he would be fed spiritually has never crossed his mind. This man values the relationships he has at his church and that is good. Relationships are important.

Perhaps technology has made "church shopping" less of an issue. If that is true, then praise God!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Calvin on Prayer

In the Institutes Calvin calls prayer “the chief exercise of faith…by which we daily receive God’s benefits.”  Institutes III, title of chapter 20 ~ John Calvin

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Collect for the 3rd Sunday After the Epiphany

Give us grace, O Lord, to answer readily the call of our Savior Jesus Christ and proclaim to all people the Good News of His salvation, that we and the whole world may perceive the glory of His marvelous works; who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. 

Friday, January 23, 2015

What Now Since I have been called to Teach God's Word?

The task of preaching and teaching God's Word is a weighty one. No man should enter upon it lightly. John Calvin, in his introduction to the reader of the Institutes tells us his understanding of his call as a teacher in the church of Christ~ "Since I undertook the office of teacher in the church, I have no other purpose than to benefit the church by maintaining the pure doctrine of godliness." 

Every teacher and preacher of God's Word would do well to have this as his sole objective when he rises to break the bread of life.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Prayer Appointed for the Second Sunday after the Epiphany

Almighty God, whose Son our Savior Jesus Christ is the light of the world: Grant that Your people, illumined by Your Word and Sacraments, may shine with the radiance of Christ's glory, that He may be known, worshiped, and obeyed to the ends of the earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with You and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

A Call to Worship from Anselm

The quote which follows is a wonderful one to have in mind when we enter our place of worship this Lord's Day!

"Come now, insignificant mortal. Leave behind your concerns for a little while, and retreat for a short time from your restless thoughts. Cast off your burdens and cares; set aside your labor and toil. Just for a little while make room for God and rest a while in Him."  ~ Anselm (1033-1109).

That really puts things in perspective!