Sunday, October 4, 2015
As Solomon once declared, there is no God like you in heaven above, or on earth below. You keep covenant with your people and show steadfast love to your servants who strive to walk before you with all their heart (1 Kings 8.23). Because of your great love with which you have loved us, we long to put away the old methods of being human which grow corrupt thru deceitful lusts, to be renewed in the spirit of our minds, and to walk fully in the new humanity, created in true righteousness and holiness (Ephesians 4.22-23). Help us, O our Father!
For your Church world over, for The National Baptist Conventions; The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; The National Primitive Baptist Convention; The Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod; The Cumberland Presbyterian Church; and the Free Methodist Church; Sustain our brotherhood in the world; fortifying those who face persecution; supply the needs of those who are lacking; protect those who are facing dangerous situations; and guide and lead all into richer and fuller faithfulness and sounder doctrine.
God of mercy, gracious Father, you have said you take no pleasure in the death of sinners, but that they should turn from their ways and live (Ezekiel 18.23); we pray for these…..stir them up to see their need, to see their sin in the glaring light of your holiness, to cry out to you for mercy, to find their life and hope in your Son Jesus Christ.
O great physician, as you healed the sick, gave strength to the lame, and set the oppressed free, we pray for you to raise up these who are afflicted and hurting…
For our country, our fellow residents, and our national leaders we pray; guide us in the ways of godliness, truthfulness, industriousness, graciousness, courteousness, and virtue for the good of all, and that your people in this land may lead quiet and peaceable lives in all godliness and reverence (1 Timothy 2.2).
Bring all the nations of the world to sensible level headedness, that peace, prosperity, healthiness and wholeness would win the upper hand; and human and drug trafficking, wickedness, and savagery might cease; so that all lands may enjoy peace, and your people flourish.
We give thanks to you, O God; we give thanks, for your name is near. We recount your wondrous deeds. For not from the east or from the west and not from the wilderness comes lifting up, but it is you, O God, who executes judgment, putting down one and lifting up another (Psalm 75.1, 6-7).
Mighty God, our attentive Father; we thank you for our vocations – whether as students, tutors, employees, supervisors, managers, public relations, homemakers – thank you that you give us gainful employment and useful occupations. May we do all that we do seeing you even in our engagements, and to do them all for you. But some, Lord, may well be concerned about their job future with the oil downturn as it is. We implore your care for us, and ask even now that you would preserve us and help us to know that you know what we need better than we do, and long before we do. Our hope is in you, and knowing that we can depend on you, may we be unfazed and unalarmed. O Lord, hear our prayer.
We pray for your Church throughout the nations, including Holy Trinity Lutheran Church; North Church; Church of the Rock; Calvary Temple; Lord of Life Lutheran; and Stonegate Presbyterian Church; Lord God, bring them to the place where their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of your mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Colossians 2:2-3). O Lord, hear our prayer.
For Bobby Griffith and his work with the Capitol Bible Study, we ask that you would enhance and enrich that ministry. Thank you for the many Capitol employees who attend from all across the racial, economic and Christian spectrum. May it be that this weekly gathering around fellowship, prayer and your Word will build them up and aid them richly. O Lord, hear our prayer.
Thank you for the bit of rain this past week, and please continue providing all that we need. Be with the farmers and cattlemen in this State that they will have success in their endeavors, and so have plenty of water and seasonable weather that their cattle and crops will be bountiful. O Lord, hear our prayer.
Finally, we pray for the bleak, the weak, and the freaked … come to their aid to pick them up, lift their hearts, and raise their hopes. O Lord, hear our prayer.
Sunday, September 27, 2015
O Father, who sends sun and rain on the just and the unjust, who provides food for the good and the evil, who shows repeated compassionate kindness on all people, give ear to our prayer for friends, family, neighbors, this world and your Church.
Please bring us the rain and showers we still need. Our lives, living and livelihoods depend on your kindness and goodness.
O God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, whom the whole heavens adore; let the whole earth also worship you, all nations obey you, all tongues confess and bless you; and men, women, girls and boys everywhere love you and serve you in peace.
We pray for your church here and throughout the world; including the Church of the Nazarene, the Orthodox Church in America, the Churches of Christ (in all their varied flavors), and the Evangelical Free Church. Give strength, aid, strong love, sturdy commitment, solid godliness, and sound doctrine. Where your people may have moved away from the centrality of the Gospel of Christ and off into the weeds of self-righteousness or sanctimoniousness, compassionately steer them back to the ancient paths, where the good way is; that they may walk in it, and find rest for their souls (Jeremiah 6.16).
For our soldiers, sailors, airmen, coast guardsmen and marines, protect them as they pass through harm’s way, strength to exercise honor and integrity, and hope in the darkest and bleakest moments.
Father, we know our nation is not spotless, we confess and acknowledge that the United States of America is neither the kingdom of God nor the Church of Jesus Christ; nevertheless, Father, we love our country. It’s a blessing to be here, and for that we thank you. Please restore moral sanity to our people, civic sensibility to our governmental leaders, and grant our country safety from all enemies foreign and domestic.
Pour out your merciful kindness on all nations, that order, stability, and tranquility may be established for the good of all people, and for the sake of your Church.
Our great God, who is not restricted by our diseases, ailments, depressions, or mental and physical afflictions; we ask you to be with these …..raise them up from their misery and misfortune, granting them unlooked for strength and hope, that they may spend the rest of their lives serving, glorifying and enjoying you.
Praise the LORD! Sing to the LORD a new song, his praise in the assembly of the godly! Let Israel be glad in his Maker; let the children of Zion rejoice in their King! Let them praise his name with dancing, making melody to him with tambourine and lyre! For the LORD takes pleasure in his people; he adorns the humble with salvation (Psalm 149:1-4).
Mighty Ruler, along with us, you hear all the publicity from our presidential aspirants; but unlike us, you know what’s real and genuine, and what’s phony-baloney. Please give the people of this land the insight and acumen to cut through the hype and hysteria to the honest and authentic. We ask, even now, for the right folks to be voted into office, men and women who will work for the common good; who will themselves have the astuteness to stimulate real righteousness and fairness in this Republic; and invigorate industry and ingenuity. O Lord, hear our prayer.
We pray for your Church throughout the nations, including Church of the Resurrection; St. Augustine of Canterbury; St. Christopher’s; St. David’s and St. James Episcopal Churches; Lord God, we pray for churches that are in trouble, either from within or without. May your Spirit guide them into all truth, fortify their resilience in being faithful to you, and correct their steps and actions that they may return to your ways. For those churches that are growing in the grace and knowledge of Jesus, may they continue to do so with joy and delight, finding their every satisfaction in glorifying you and enjoying you forever. O Lord, hear our prayer.
For this congregation we give you thanks and we pray. We thank you for the rich friendships and relationships that have been bred here, for the love that has grown, the desire to reach other people with the Gospel that is maturing, and for the increasing number of those giving their time in mercy ministry. We pray for both our short-term and long-term direction. As plans are being made for the new care groups, as new families find us and become steadily involved, for the many who are in the new members’ class, those who will be engaged in the leadership class, and for the bigger involvement between the deacons and elders; we ask you to guide us through each of these for the good of the congregation that we may bear good fruit, fruit that will abide, so that you – Father – may be glorified in your Son by the Holy Spirit. O Lord, hear our prayer.
Finally, we pray for the weary, the weak, and the wayward … show yourself mighty on their behalf; reignite hope in their hearts; replenish them with strength; and restore health to their bodies and minds. O Lord, hear our prayer.
Sunday, September 20, 2015
Because of Jesus, because of your Holy Spirit, and because of your strongly guaranteed promises, we are bold to pray to you; O Lord God, Mighty God.
Bring the unruliness and agitation of all the nations of this world to a place of peace, orderliness, and the rule of just law (esp. the tumultuous realm Afghanistan, the distressed nations Iraq and Syria, the violence-torn country of Mexico, and the overwhelmed lands of the European Union), so that peaceful and healthy prosperity might prevail, the unfortunate relieved of their distresses, your church live quietly and safely, and your Gospel go out unhindered.
Direct in our country those who speak where many listen, and write what many read; that they may do their part in making the hearts of this people wise, their mind sound, and their wills righteous.
Rain down health on the sick and ailing, fortify those receiving treatment for serious diseases, provide sanity for those troubled in mind and heart, and give consolation and hope for the grieving……
Consider the needs of this congregation, loving Father. As you have called us through your Son to liberty, may we not use our liberty as an opportunity to serve the flesh, but through love to serve one another (Galatians 5.13). Look kindly on our families that harmony may fill out our homes and our marriages get stronger. Bless those with “empty nests,” as well as those who are single and widowed, that their days may be filled with your presence, and their time employed in your service.
Revive, enrich, guide, and empower your church throughout the world, including the Southern Baptist Convention, Church of God (Anderson, IND); Independent Baptist alliances; and the Redeemed Christian Church of God. Please guide your churches that they may confidently trust in your Son Jesus Christ for their hope and salvation, that they may crucify the flesh with its passions and desires, and that they would live and walk in the Spirit (Galatians 5.25-26).
Finally, look in mercy on these whom we mention silently to you who have yet to embrace Jesus Christ as he is freely offered in the Gospel, and on these who have strayed away from the Christian Faith ….
Praise the LORD! For it is good to sing praises to you, our God; for it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting. You cover the heavens with clouds; you prepare rain for the earth; you make grass grow on the hills. You give to the beasts their food, and to the young ravens that cry. Your delight is not in the strength of the horse, nor your pleasure in the legs of a man, but you, O LORD, take pleasure in those who fear you, in those who hope in your steadfast love (Psalm 147:8-11 ESV).
We pray for your Church throughout the nations, including St. Elijah Orthodox Church; St. George Greek Orthodox; St. Mary’s Ukrainian Orthodox; All Souls Episcopal; and Church of the Redeemer; may they contend for the true Faith that was once for all delivered to the saints, building themselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep themselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life (Jude 3 and 20-21). O Lord, hear our prayer.
Lord God, Great King over all the earth, who is great beyond the borders of Israel: we ask you to be with this land that we love; stand beside her, and guide her thru the night with a light from above; from the mountains, to the prairies, to the oceans white with foam. O God, please bless America; our home, sweet home. And to that end, may your churches in this country be revived in robust righteousness and firm faithfulness; may our families become steadier; our liberties become more secure; our fellow citizens less concerned with amassing their entitlements, and more about the common good; and our officials, policymakers and lawmakers less interested in building their own empires and more involved in a healthy and wholesome land. O Lord, hear our prayer.
Where could we turn, O Lord, if not to you? You are the one who made us, who knows us deeper than we know even our own selves. Your eyes, O LORD, are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good (Proverbs 15:3). There are some who are here who have burdens that they are desperate for you to know, but maybe are ashamed to mention to you….; there are others who have undergone things that have grieved their souls, and maybe feel overlooked….; there are some whose tears are silent and whose sobs are soundless out of despair…. Lord, you know us deeper than we know even ourselves. Hear the solitude, hear the loneliness, hear the sighs, hear the wordless gasps; and answer them with the light of your smile, and the richness of your compassion. O Lord, hear our prayer.
Friday, September 18, 2015
40/40 Vision: Clarifying Your Mission in Midlife
Peter Greer and Greg Lafferty
PO Box 1400
Downers Grove, IL 60515
978-0-8308-4434-0; November 2015; $16.00
Faced squarely by the hard truth that one has landed in the middle of a short life that is rapidly getting shorter provides a person an opportunity to go one of two directions: do nothing different and continue as before, or re-evaluate and re-direct. In this regard the biblical material known as Ecclesiastes is a great place to go to get a dose of reality before things get too far out of hand and too far down the road. And one way to steer through Ecclesiastes is with the help of a new 208 page hardback, “40/40 Vision: Clarifying Your Mission in Midlife.” This fine, reader-friendly book is penned by Peter Greer, president and CEO of HOPE International, and Greg Lafferty, senior pastor of Willowdale Chapel in Kennett Square and Jennersville, Pennsylvania. Greer and Lafferty write in a clear, captivating, and challenging style that keeps the reader turning pages, thinking, and engaging with the material.
“40/40 Vision” takes up themes from Ecclesiastes and walks through them in twelve chapters with good descriptions, illustrative stories, and serious encounters. The authors tackle a host of issues that someone coming to the middle years of their life will likely be facing. For example when mortality cold-slaps you in the face; what purpose is there in this hack-and-grind called work; the reasons for that gut-deep disappointment; recognizing the growing urge of selfishness; meeting the dawning realization of pointlessness. There’s no sugar-coating by Greer and Lafferty, but an honest-face-the-music approach that gently draws the reader to see the situation in all of its starkness. But instead of leaving the middle-lifer in a crisis, the authors offer sage, biblical counsel on how to turn all of this into a mid-life opportunity.
“40/40 Vision” is skillfully crafted, standing as it does on the foundation of Ecclesiastes. It’s a work that is meant to be read, discussed, dog-eared, marked-up, and returned to for years to come. It is well suited for study groups, Adult Christian Education classes, mentors and mentees, spiritual directors, counselors and individuals. I urge you to go straight away and purchase a copy soon. Your time spent reading it will be worth every minute, and the money you put down on it will be worth every dime.
My sincere gratitude goes to InterVarsity Press for the free copy of the book used for this review.
Sunday, September 13, 2015
Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One, we come to you at your Son’s behest who bid us to ask, and it would be given to us; to seek, and we would find; to knock, and the door would be opened to us (Luke 11.9-10).
We pray for the Church of our Lord Jesus throughout the world, including the Church of England, the Episcopal Church, the Anglican Communion in North America, the Church of Scotland, the Free Church of Scotland, the United Methodist Church, and the Church of South India. Preserve your people from harm and poverty that they may be loyal followers all their days. Grant repentance and reparations where they are fitting; restore orthodoxy where it has withered into near nothingness; strengthen the trustworthy, and grant success to those working to restore fidelity.
Thank you for the reminder of your lavish feast (Isaiah 25.6-9), and our part in drawing all nations to come. Bless and enrich those who have gone to other lands and other places to make disciples of all nations; especially Dan, his family and the MTW-Japan team. We beseech you to fill up what is lacking financially, physically and spiritually. You who open doors that no one can shut, and shut doors so that no one can open: open doors for them and for your Gospel.
We also ask your richest care, healing touch, and sustaining comfort for all who are ailing, alarmed, and anxious, ……
Lord God, we intercede on behalf of those we know who are unbelievers or having once confessed their faith in Christ have stumbled and sunk away….we ask for your Spirit to convince them of their sin and misery, to enlighten their minds in the knowledge of Christ, to renew their wills, and to persuade and enable them to embrace Jesus Christ freely offered to all in the Gospel.
Finally, we implore your kindness to be with this congregation. Please empower us to reach out to our piece of Oklahoma with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Fill our homes and families with health and godliness. Watch over our children who are in college, at the A.F. Academy, or following their vocational pursuits. And for those of our number concerned about their finances, supply their lack, and ease their concerns by your loving care.
Praise the LORD! For it is good to sing praises to you, our God; for it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting. You, O LORD, build up Jerusalem; you gather the outcasts of Israel. You heal the brokenhearted and bind up their wounds. You determine the number of the stars; you give to all of them their names. Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure. O LORD, you lift up the humble; and you cast the wicked to the ground (Psalm 147:1-6).
We pray for your Church throughout the nations, including Bethel Congregational Church; Mayflower Congregational; Grace Covenant Church and Life Church; in Paul’s words, grant them, as your chosen ones, holy and beloved, to put on compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as you have forgiven them, so may they also forgive (Colossians 3:12-13). O Lord, hear our prayer.
Lord God, it seems that our nation is being pulled in opposite directions; strained by conflicting ideologies and idolatries. Secularism and skepticism pushing and pulling here and there; lawlessness and licentiousness shoving about; and then there are competing voices calling for governmental redemptions, judicial atonements and constitutional salvations. Often times declaring ourselves wise, we show ourselves fools. Lord God, you alone can bring sanity, sensibleness and salvationto nations. We implore you to forgive our national sins, and restore the United States of America to the rule of just law, social civility, and moral stability. O Lord, hear our prayer.
We look around at a sick, sorrowful, scornful, and scorched planet and cry out to you to please shower your mercy on our world, that peace, health, order, justice, and wellbeing might prevail throughout the nations, so that your Gospel may go forward unhindered, your creation be beautifully restored and your Church in all places prospered. O Lord, hear our prayer.
O God of justice, God of might: hear the cries of your people who are being trounced and thumped and thrashed in so many places: regions of India, places in Afghanistan and Syria; areas in North Africa; territories of Asia; and in other locations. Give them strength to face their captors and oppressors with Spirit-empowered Christ-likeness. Give them the right words to speak as they bear witness to Christ. We also ask you to deliver them and restore them to safety. For those hunting them down and hurting them, we pray that they would be overawed by your peoples’ faithfulness and by the Gospel that they would be converted. And those who will not, we pray with the Psalmist: “Arise, O God, defend your cause; remember how the foolish scoff at you all the day! Do not forget the clamor of your foes, the uproar of those who rise against you, which goes up continually” (Psalm 74:22-23 ESV)! O Lord, hear our prayer.
Sunday, September 6, 2015
Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God. (Psalm 90.1-2).
Lord God, we pray for all Christian ministers, pastors, priest, Bishops and elders, especially in the greater Oklahoma City area. As you delight to bring about by your grace what the weakness of our nature cannot achieve; we pray that by your holy peace, power, presence and purity, your Gospel would go forth in their ministry as light to illuminate the ignorant; life to revive the dead; fire to purify the unclean; hope to fortify the hopeless; and help to raise up the helpless.
For all of our brothers and sisters in Christ who are beat down, bloodied and bullied by persecutors and pursuers, in Africa, the Middle East, Asia and all other places: grant them your relief, buttress them in bold belief, and give them words to bear faithful witness no matter the outcome. And for their oppressors we pray for you to infiltrate through to their hearts and minds, bringing them to lively faith in Christ Jesus; and if they will not repent of their violence and victimizing, then we ask with the psalmist: “Arise, O LORD; O God, lift up your hand; forget not the afflicted. Break the arm of the wicked and evildoer; call his wickedness to account till you find none” (Psalm 10.12, 15).
We ask you to relieve, restore, raise up and revive all those who suffer physically, mentally and spiritually …; give them courage and hope in their troubles; and bring them to lift up their voices in joyful praise for your deliverances.
Look earnestly on our nation, Holy God; where there is evil lurking behind doors of conference rooms, depots and households, bring the light of your justice. Where there is hopeless despair in our alleyways, along pathways, and sluffing through passageways, rain down your refreshing grace. From the Whitehouse, to the packing house, on to our house, steer us toward healthy civility, affable community, industrious prosperity, and compassionate charity.
Finally, take note of those nations and countries that find themselves ripped apart by rivalries, revolutions and raging ruffians; and restore law and order; health care and education; safety and safe drinking water. For other lands facing fiscal hardships and misfortunes, bring their leaders and people to succeed in establishing economic stability for the good of all. And those countries who are enjoying times of tranquility, thank you. May those times be long-lasting.
You are the LORD, our Redeemer, who formed us from the womb; who made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens, who spread out the earth by yourself, who frustrates the signs of liars and makes fools of diviners, who turns wise men back and makes their knowledge foolish, who confirms the word of your servant and fulfills the counsel of your messengers (Isaiah 44.24-25). It is to you we come, interceding on behalf of others, knowing that you can fulfill all your holy will.
We pray for your Church throughout the nations, including Community of Faith Church; Crossings Community Church; Heartland Community Church; Our Lord’s Community Church; and Westmoore Community Church; in Paul’s words, may your people be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God (Ephesians 5.1-2). O Lord, hear our prayer.
Look on this congregation with your favor, O our God. As the Psalmist said, “Great is the LORD, who delights in the welfare of his servant” (Psalm 35.27b). Give us your shalom, your welfare; and then delight in what you have given us! “Give what you command, and command what you will” (Augustine, Confessions, 10.29). May your shalom infuse our interactions with one another, fill us with your peace that passes all understanding, and fuel us to go forward in Jesus’ Gospel and Goodwill way. O Lord, hear our prayer.
As our people, and members of our families, ……. travel this holiday week end, keep them safe, and bring them home securely. O Lord, hear our prayer.
We intercede on behalf of those who are tussling with poor health…, scant finances…, marital scraps …, family tensions …, deep-seated dismay…, inner distresses…, and occupational concerns …, Please, Father, bring them through their distresses, and out the other side, stronger, more joyful and resilient that in the end they may raise their hearts to you in thanksgiving. O Lord, hear our prayer.
Friday, September 4, 2015
When we get used to someone, a spouse or children, for example, it’s easy for that relationship to become dull and routine. Just like driving to work day after day, week upon week, and you miss the beauty or uniqueness surrounding your route. The same kind of thing happens for Christians, especially those who rigorously read the Scriptures, day after day, week upon week. So that when it comes to Jesus, predictable assumptions begin to take over, and the surprise and scandal of Jesus becomes planed down and polished smooth. To remedy this, three authors have pooled their talents and expertise together in a 272 page resource intended to freshly bring out some of the distinctiveness of Jesus. “Rediscovering Jesus: An Introduction to Biblical, Religious and Cultural Perspectives on Christ,” is collaboratively penned by David B. Capes, professor of New Testament in the School of Christian Thought at Houston Baptist University; Rodney Reeves, dean of The Courts Redford College of Theology and Ministry and professor of biblical studies at Southwest Baptist University, both in Bolivar, Missouri; and E. Randolph Richards, dean and professor of biblical studies in the School of Ministry at Palm Beach Atlantic University.
“Rediscovering Jesus” opens out into two sections, the first is biblical, and the second is religious and cultural. Each chapter answers three questions: (1) What picture of Jesus is portrayed in this venue? (2) How is this picture of Jesus different from others? (3) What would it mean if this was our only depiction of Jesus? Whether the authors are examining Matthew, John, Paul and other biblical sources, or they’re looking into the religious and cultural models of Mormonism, Islam, Americanism and others, they follow this three-fold query. Additionally, each chapter ends with discussion questions making this book ideal for group study.
The strength of “Rediscovering Jesus” is that readers will see old things afresh, and stumble onto ideas that may be novel to them. Another asset of this approach is that it helps the Christian to regain some of the original intent of biblical authors, as well as to hear more clearly the assumptions made by others about Jesus. It is an easy to read, non-technical volume that can be simply adapted to Upper School and college level classes, as well as Bible studies. It’s a book worth your time and your money.
My thanks to InterVarsity Press and IVP Academic for the free copy of “Rediscovering Jesus” used for this review.
You can find the book at this link.