Monthly Archives: October 2010

Prayer for the day – “I Am His Brother”

O gracious God,
I am fully aware that I am unworthy.
I deserve to be a brother of Satan and not of Christ.
But Christ, your dear Son died and rose for me.
I am his brother.
He earnestly desires that I should believe in him,
without doubt and fear.

I need no longer regard myself
as unworthy and full of sin.
For this I love and thank him from my heart.

Praise be to the faithful Savior,
for he is so gracious and merciful
as are you and the Holy Spirit in eternity.
Amen.

– Martin Luther, from Luther’s Prayers

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Loving God More

read this somewhere, but alas – dont remember where.
Anyway, after realizing that there are now two engaged couples in our canvas group & a couple of others that are close to us – who are engaged, I thought I’d post this…

Loving God More
(In 1928, Temple Gairdner wrote a poem called Prayer for a Fiancée or Wife. It’s a profound prayer, and I think you’ll see that it relates to more than just marriage._

That I may come near to her,
draw me nearer to thee than to her;
that I may know her,
make me to know thee more than her;
that I may love her with the perfect love
of a perfectly whole heart.
Cause me to love thee more than her and most of all.
Amen. Amen.

That nothing may be between me and her,
be thou between us, every moment.
That we may be constantly together,
draw us into separate loneliness with thyself.
And when we meet breast to breast, my God,
let it be on thine own. Amen. Amen.

It reminds me of these words by C.S. Lewis:
When I have learnt to love God better than my earthly dearest, I shall love my earthly dearest better than I do now. In so far as I learn to love my earthly dearest at the expense of God and instead of God, I shall be moving towards the state in which I shall not love my earthly dearest at all. When first things are put first, second things are not suppressed but increased. God save us from idols so we can love him more, and enjoy all of his gifts as well.


Halloween thoughts

read this today online, & thought it was a good read:

Halloween: A Christian Perspective

The holiday is a rare opportunity in the religious calendar to reflect on death.
For many churches this week, there won’t be any Styrofoam grave stones, skeletons or spooky signs of death and decay. Instead of morbid celebrations of Halloween, there will be innocuously termed—and innocuously decorated—”Harvest Parties.” It’s Halloween cleaned up, made appropriate even for the youngest congregants. But maybe that’s a wrong approach. Halloween, also known as “All Hallows Eve,” and All Saints Day (on Nov. 1) offer a rare opportunity in the Christian calendar to reflect on death. The holidays were intended to celebrate the communion of the saints, the spiritual unity of all—living and dead—who trust in Christ and await the eventual resurrection of their bodies.

This is the hope on which Christians stake their lives. But in a culture with deep fears of death and dying, even many of the faithful would rather avoid talking about the grave. Until the 20th century, the idea of the physical resurrection of our bodies shaped how Christians practiced the rituals of death. They used to see the end of life as the most important opportunity to engage their faith and live fully in the presence of God. Following the 14th century’s Black Plague, Christians developed the ars moriendi, the art of dying. With so many people perishing alone, as family and friends either died or fled, an anonymous priest created a book illustrating (with woodcut pictures) the temptations faced by the dying, and how they might be overcome. The images allowed illiterate Christians to die with the guidance of the church. Copies of the book spread throughout Europe and were used for more than a century.

Martin Luther built on this in his “Sermon on Preparing to Die,” in which he advised his followers to trust in the image of Jesus on their deathbeds. In the 17th century, Jeremy Taylor, an English Puritan, argued in his book “Holy Dying” that dying well was not intrinsically different than living a good life: “All that a sick and dying man can do is but to exercise those virtues which he before acquired.” John Wesley, founder of Methodism, asked any follower who was near death, “Do you see Jesus?” All expected that Jesus would fulfill his promise, in John 14:3, to “come back and take you to be with me.”

By the 19th century, English and American Methodists called the tradition the “happy” or the “beautiful” death. While death was as unwelcome then as it is today, people knew to expect it, so they prepared themselves throughout their lives. The Christian death is meant to mimic Jesus’ own. Before his death, Jesus prepared through prayer in the garden of Gethsemane, offered instruction, and said farewell in the last supper. From the cross, Jesus even arranged his worldly affairs by asking a disciple to care for his elderly mother. He gave up his own life in the hope of defeating death forever. Old tombstones in America’s earliest graveyards express this hope: “Here I lie,” they say, “awaiting resurrection.”

In his book “Facing the ‘King of Terrors,'” the historian Robert Wells quotes the 1824 obituary of Daniel Vedder, a man in Schenectady, N.Y.: “His last days exhibited a scene peculiarly striking. . . . He expressed the most cheerful resignation to the will of his heavenly father. . . . It was observed that as he approached the hour of his death, his views of divine subjects [angels and spiritual beings] became increasingly clear.”
Vedder’s death illustrated the basic elements of the beautiful death. In it, family, friends and neighbors surrounded the dying person. He asked forgiveness for wrongs he had committed and forgave those of others. He confessed his love for each person and offered last words of advice or encouragement. Lastly, the dying person expressed his belief in life eternal and sometimes even described visions of that future realm. Loved ones—whether family, neighbors or church friends—were expected to be present as comforters and witnesses.
Contrast this with modern scenes of hospital patients hooked up to machines for months or years, so bruised and broken that some family members can’t bear to watch. The Christian tradition of the art of dying doesn’t eliminate these difficult circumstances, but it does offer a framework for end-of-life care, and goals to guide choices in our final days.

If learning to die must begin during life, there’s no better time to start than Halloween and All Saints Day. There already exist appropriate nursery rhymes and grammar primers: Think of “Now I lay me down to sleep. . .” Such guidance can lead children toward the knowledge that they too can celebrate the communion of all the saints.

Mr. Moll, a hospice volunteer and the author of “The Art of Dying: Living Fully into the Life to Come” (IVP Books, 2010), blogs at http://www.robmoll.com.


prayer for the day

God of peace, quell the turmoil within us; quiet the noise and chaos of our lives and allow us to rest in you. Help us to see beyond the moments of confusion and sadness, and to be patient in the unfolding of your Spirit in our lives and our world. Amen.


links worth reading

I SPREAD YOUR IDEA BECAUSE…

Ideas spread when people choose to spread them. Here are some reasons why:
I spread your idea because it makes me feel generous.
…because I feel smart alerting others to what I discovered.
…because I care about the outcome and want you (the creator of the idea) to succeed.
…because I have no choice. Every time I use your product, I spread the idea (Hotmail, iPad, a tattoo).
…because there’s a financial benefit directly to me (Amazon affiliates, mlm).
…because it’s funny and laughing alone is no fun.
…because I’m lonely and sharing an idea solves that problem, at least for a while.
…because I’m angry and I want to enlist others in my outrage (or in shutting you down).
…because both my friend and I will benefit if I share the idea (Groupon).
…because you asked me to, and it’s hard to say no to you.
…because I can use the idea to introduce people to one another, and making a match is both fun in the short run and community-building.
…because your service works better if all my friends use it (email, Facebook).
…because if everyone knew this idea, I’d be happier.
…because your idea says something that I have trouble saying directly (AA, a blog post, a book).
…because I care about someone and this idea will make them happier or healthier.
…because it’s fun to make another teen snicker about prurient stuff we’re not supposed to see.
…because the tribe needs to know about this if we’re going to avoid an external threat.
…because the tribe needs to know about this if we’re going to maintain internal order.
…because it’s my job.
I spread your idea because I’m in awe of your art and the only way I can repay you is to share that art with others.

THE AMBITION ENGINE

5 Characteristics Needed to be a Church Planter

sounds like a good missional, book
IT TAKES TIME
I love this passage near the end of the book:
“What I heard, over and over again in the interviews I did for this book (and there were 46 of them) was that the teaching and preaching that leads to a church slowly, painfully, awkwardly, turning itself inside out to face the world once again takes time – and it costs. Churches, especially well-established ones who have had a longer time to grow comfortable and cut-off, do not become missional overnight. But,, it is happening.”


What keeps you going when you want to quit ?

WHAT KEEPS YOU GOING WHEN YOU WANT TO QUIT?
(or So, why should I stay in this marriage?)

Because I want love to be the defining characteristic of my life. There is no better better place to learn how to love than marriage.
Because I want to be a leader, leading myself first and then my own family. Whatever else this means, it means initiative and sacrifice. That’s what leaders do.
Because I really do love this woman with all my heart. All I have to think about is all the incredible moments we have shared together through the years.
Because she is the mother of my five children—and a really, really great mom.
Because she is my best friend, even though we occasionally get on one another’s last nerve. She is the one person I can count on to be there when I need someone to listen to me.
Because we have 31 years invested in this relationship. It is less expensive to invest a little more than start over. We are too far into it to quit. (I would say this if we had been married for 6 months.)
Because I really do know her. I have spent a lifetime learning. And yet there is still so much more I want to know. She fascinates me.
Because I want to provide an example to my sons-in-law—and anyone else who is watching—of how to love a woman well. People need positive role models, and I want to be that person.
Because I want to leave a legacy of love and stability for my children and my grandchildren. The alternative is unthinkable.
Because I want my marriage to be an icon of Christ’s love for His Bride, the Church. After all, this is the sacramental nature of marriage (see Ephesians 5:22–33).


Who should plant a church?

“For instance, one middle-aged candidate didn’t pass his denomination’s assessment process; they thought he was too introverted and couldn’t engage unchurched people. (They also rated him as a ‘mediocre preacher’.) Upon further prayer and conversation, they revised that decision. He went on to plant a thriving church in the northeast. Today this pastor has launched an entire network of dynamic new church starts. That’s the story of the introverted, bookish, ‘mediocre preacher’ named Tim Keller [pastor of the 5,000+ Redeemer in NYC].”

-Matthew Woodly, “A Calling Confirmed”, Leadership Journal

HT: Bob Hyatt