The Weekend Wanderer: 27 April 2019

The Weekend Wanderer” is a weekly curated selection of news, stories, resources, and media on the intersection of faith and culture for you to explore through your weekend. Wander through these links however you like and in any order you like.

 

sri lanka church bombings“Bombs tear through Sri Lankan churches and hotels” – On Easter Sunday, multiple bombs went off in churches around Colombo, Negombo, and Batticaloa in Sri Lanka. The death toll continues to rise, with over 350 lives now taken as a result of the bombings. As reports come in, it appears that the bombings were carried out by educated, middle-class individuals, including two sons of a wealthy spice trader, and may be in response to the Christchurch mosque bombing in New Zealand.

 

90392“Six Biblical Responses to Sri Lanka’s Easter Bombings”Ajith Fernando, a Sri Lankan theologian and resident of Colombo, offers insight into how we should consider our response to such an event as Christians. This is a must read by an insider to Sri Lanka for those of us trying to understand how we should think, feel, and respond to these terrible events.

 

Paul W Robinson“Wheaton College Professor Emeritus Dr. Paul W. Robinson Wins Fulbright” – After graduating from Wheaton College, my wife, Kelly, worked for the Human Needs and Global Resources (HNGR) program at Wheaton College, first with Dr. Bob Stickney, and then with Dr. Paul Robinson. Paul and his wife, Margie, became friends and a beloved uncle and aunt to us as newlyweds in those days. I have continued to connect with Paul over the years through mutual work with Congo Initiative, and I was thrilled to hear about this new opportunity for Paul.

 

30-days-adult-cover-201930 Days of Prayer for the Muslim World – For many years now, I have participated with others in praying for God to move powerfully in the Muslim world during Ramadan. One of the best resources for this is “30 Days of Prayer for the Muslim World,” with their informed and full daily prayer guide. “It calls the church to make a deliberate but respectful effort to learn about, pray for and reach out to our world’s Muslim neighbors. It coincides annually with the important Islamic month of religious observation — Ramadan, a time of the year when Muslims are much more deeply aware of spiritual matters.”

 

Denton-Program-Guatemala-2018“A Christian Case for Humanitarian Intervention” – “The United States has the power, like no other force on earth, to protect the innocent from great evil. It has the capacity to send a message to lawless regimes. The message: they cannot always evade the moral laws that govern civilized nations. It is a message that is consistent with America’s vital national interests—and with its most cherished political and religious ideals. Conservatives, and Christians, ought to know and care about these ideals, which have done so much to promote international peace and security. Remember the American Creed, those self-evident truths expressed by thinkers from John Locke to James Madison: a belief in the God-given worth and equality of every human being, in natural rights, in the right to live in freedom, in liberty of conscience, government by consent of the governed.”

 

Mike Pence

“Mike Pence Is Coming to Taylor’s Graduation. The Class of 2019 Is Ready.” – “Taylor University recently made national news with its announcement that Vice President Mike Pence will deliver this year’s commencement address—spurring backlash from students, alumni, parents, and faculty. This is not the only recent political clash to put the small evangelical college in the spotlight. Last year, an anonymous newspaper titled Excalibur was created and distributed by a group of Taylor faculty who wanted to take a stand against the increasing liberalization that they perceived on campus.”

 

28f88c326477495985ff467547450456-jumbo“Can Black Evangelicals Save the Whole Movement?” – Not in direct response to the situation at Taylor with Mike Pence, but somewhat related you can read Molly Worthen’s opinion piece in The New York Times on what might save the evangelical movement. “Yet a vanguard of Christian consultants and community activists focused on racial justice is gaining a wider hearing in white evangelical institutions than ever before. Many of them have studied history, sociology — and that academic boogeyman, critical race theory, a conceptual framework focused on the power structures that help maintain white supremacy. They combine these tools with biblical arguments to challenge white evangelical assumptions about the role of the church in the world.”

 

yosemite-taft-point_s

“Selfie Deaths Are an Epidemic” – From Kathryn Miles at Outdoor Magazine: “Wu’s death, after all, is only the latest in a string of selfie-related fatalities. Termed ‘killfies’ by some social media researchers, these accidental deaths have involved social media personalities and, of course, adventurers. Canadian rapper Jon James McMurray perished last October after crawling out onto the wing of a Cessna while filming a music video….It can feel somehow reassuring to condemn deaths like these as foolish or self-absorbed, but that doesn’t seem entirely fair. And, frankly, emerging research doesn’t support that position.”

 

Music: The National, “Guilty Party”

[I do not necessarily agree with all the views expressed within the articles linked from this page, but I have read them myself in order to make me think more deeply.]

Give Us Our Daily Bread [30 Days of Prayer]

Summer of Prayer Ads_Banner“Give us today our daily bread.” (Matthew 6:11)

The first three petitions of the Lord’s prayer orient us with God at the center in prayer. With the next three petitions, however, the pronouns switch from ‘You’ and ‘Your’ to ‘us’ and ‘our.’ This switch reminds us that prayer is not only about God in heaven but also about us here on earth. We and our lives are of great interest to God.

The first of the requests related to humanity is an acknowledgement of our basic need before God. Every day we face the fact that our rumbling stomachs need sustenance. And so, we turn to God in dependence, requesting that He provide for us. In a world bent on acquisitiveness yet struggling with an imbalance of material goods it is an important reminder that this is not a prayer for our daily wants but for our daily needs.

Some who are reading this devotional today may be in deep places of need. Bring your deep needs to God and ask Him to provide. Others may be in a place of great abundance. If so, thank God for all He has given, for “every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights” (James 1:17).

This request is also one we can lift up on behalf of others. We can pray for our family and friends that God will provide for their daily needs, whatever those needs may be. We can lift up those caught in the midst of conflicts, homelessness, oppression, and difficulty, that God would provide for their needs. The psalmist writes: “This poor man called, and the Lord heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles” (Psalm 34:8). Martin Luther, in his commentary on the Lord’s Prayer, viewed this request also as a warning. Regarding “those who wantonly oppress the poor and deprive them of their daily bread,” he wrote, “let them take care that they do not lose the common intercession, and beware lest this petition in the Lord’s Prayer be against them.”[1]

Standing with our Father, we turn our eyes to the true needs of the world and our lives, presenting them to Him in order that He will provide for us. “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him” (Matthew 7:11).

Our Father,
give us our daily bread.
Provide for our true needs,
the seen and the unseen,
in ways that only You can
because of Your knowledge and grace.
We call out to You because You are good
and Your mercy endures forever.
Lord, I do not deserve to have You
  come under my roof,
but just say the word,
and I will be healed.


[1] Martin Luther, “The Lord’s Prayer,” in The Larger Catechism, http://bookofconcord.org/lc-5-ourfather.php.

[This post is part of the “30 Days of Prayer” devotional. Read other posts here.]

Let Your Will Be Done [30 Days of Prayer]

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“Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10)

Following the first petition that God’s name be hallowed and the second that God’s kingdom would come, the third petition of the Lord’s Prayer asks that God’s will would be done upon the earth. This summarizes the first half of the Lord’s Prayer, which focuses upon God and His ways before turning to human beings and our ways. The primary focus – the first place of attention – in prayer is upon God and not upon ourselves.

Jesus makes this clear through His request that God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Heaven is the sphere in which God lives and in which His rule and reign is perfectly done, but earth is the place touched by sin, evil and death in which God’s will is imperfectly done. That is true in us and in the world around us.

Jesus provides us not only teaching on this aspect of prayer, but a model for it as well. Approaching His Father in agonized prayer while in the Garden of Gethsemane, just before His arrest and crucifixion, Jesus asks that the cup of suffering before Him might pass by, if there is any other way. Yet the summary statement of His desire in prayer is found in these words: “Yet not my will, but Yours be done” (Luke 22:42). We see this same attitude in prayer modeled by Mary, the mother of Jesus, when the angel Gabriel approached her with the message that she would bear the Messiah in her womb miraculously. Her response was: “I am the Lord’s servant. May your words to me be fulfilled” (1:38).

This is holy submission to the will of God. If we did not know God as perfectly holy and truly our Father, then such submission might seem risky. Yet as we grow to know the One whom we approach in prayer, we learn again and again just how good it is to yield in our lives to the will of God. Such humble surrender to God in our own lives quickly leads us to intercede before God on behalf of the world that “His good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:2) may be done here on earth as it is in heaven.

So, the major preoccupation of children who come into their Father’s presence in prayer is not that we may receive what we need but that He may receive what He deserves – which is honor to His name, the spread of His kingdom, the doing of His will.[1]

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed by Your Name.
May Your kingdom come
and Your will be done
here on earth
as it is in heaven.
Shape and mold my life according to
Your good, pleasing and perfect will.
Even so, bring Your will to fruition
upon every square inch of this world
that You might receive the greatest glory
in the greatest number of lives
around the globe.


[1] John R. W. Stott, “Growth in the Prayer Life,” sermon given on August 20, 1989.

[This post is part of the “30 Days of Prayer” devotional. Read other posts here.]

Let Your Kingdom Come [30 Days of Prayer]

Summer of Prayer Ads_Banner“Your kingdom come…” (Matthew 6:10)

The second petition of the Lord’s Prayer focuses on God’s kingdom coming upon earth. A kingdom is the sphere of authority and rule of a king, and so, the kingdom of God is the domain of God’s rule and reign.

Throughout the Old Testament, God is referred to as the King: “The Lord is King for ever and ever” (Psalm 10:16). While the phrase kingdom of God never appears in the Old Testament, the concept of God’s kingdom appears again and again. The Temple in Jerusalem was viewed as the place where God is enthroned, the tangible representation of the reality that God in heaven rules over the earth with His power.

That reality comes into sharper focus with Jesus. As the new tabernacle of God upon earth (John 1:14), Jesus brings God’s kingdom close in a new way. In fact, Jesus’ first words in Mark’s Gospel are: “The time has come. The kingdom of God has come near” (Mark 1:15). He is telling all who hear that God’s kingdom – His rule and reign – are not far off but are breaking into every nook and cranny of the world in which we live.

When Jesus teaches His disciples to pray “Your kingdom come,” He is inviting them to both internalize God’s agenda personally and to participate in the work of the kingdom on earth. One the one hand, as we pray “Your kingdom come,” we are saying to God that we want Him to reign in us. We want our thoughts, emotions, dreams, desires, and goals – everything about us – to be shaped in line with God’s rule and reign.

On the other hand, when we pray “Your kingdom come,” we are asking God that His rule and reign be established everywhere on earth. Our prayer is that the message of good news in Christ reach every nation (Matthew 24:14), even as we pray that the righteousness and justice of God’s reign be established upon the whole earth (Psalm 89:14). We know that the fullness of God’s kingdom will not come until Christ’s return (Revelation 21:1-8) but still our prayers fervently express a longing for the fullness of that kingdom. This is the final cry of prayer in the Bible: “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus” (22:20).

As disciples our preoccupation in prayer is that God’s kingdom – His rule and reign – be displayed and come to fruition both in us and in the world.

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed by Your Name.
May Your kingdom come
in me in all its fullness:
in my thoughts and emotions,
in my pursuits and my dreams –
Your kingdom in and through me
in every way imaginable.
And may Your kingdom come
in every part of the earth:
in the readily seen and the hidden,
in the high places and low places,
in the urban, suburban and rural settings –
in all places, let Your kingdom come!   

[This post is part of the “30 Days of Prayer” devotional. Read other posts here.]

Prayer to Your Father in Secret [30 Days of Prayer]

Summer of Prayer Ads_Banner“But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” (Matthew 6:6)

In contrast to the hypocrite of Matthew 6:5, who loves to have their prayers seen and heard in public places, Jesus tells His disciples that they should pray to their Father in secret. Because God is our Father, we are set free from the need to impress others in our prayer life. Instead, we can turn aside to the secret place of our lives to speak to Him.

Ironically, in Jesus’ time most of His hearers only had one-room houses, so it wasn’t like they had an extra secret room somewhere. While it can be helpful to literally have a prayer closet, Jesus emphasizes that we should go into some secret place where we can meet with God.

Jesus’ example shows us what the secret place with God looks like. We read in one part of the Gospels that Jesus had “no place to lay His head” (Luke 9:58). As a result, Jesus drew aside to be with God early in the morning (Mark 1:35), often in deserted places of solitude (Luke 5:16). Wherever He was, Jesus found a secret place where He could meet with His Father in secret.

At the same time, there was one place it seems Jesus often liked to draw away while in Jerusalem. That was the Mount of Olives. This was the place where Jesus prayed on the night of His betrayal in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36-56). It was a special place of prayer for Him where He could meet with the Father.

Whether on the road with no place to lay His head or in a regular place like the Mount of Olives, Jesus’ reward in prayer was not the accolades of others but simply meeting with His Father.

If we are praying to our Father and not to the crowds of people around us, where is our secret place with God? Do you have a place where You can regularly meet with God in prayer? Is it your car, is it your office, is it literally a quiet nook or closet where you can talk with Him? Jesus assumes that we will pray – that’s why He says, “when you pray…” – so are we developing the secret life of prayer with Father God just like Jesus?

Father, I draw near to You
  in the secret and the quiet
of this place and time
  where You are found.
I want to tell You that You are my reward,
  and I love You more than others’ praise.
Make that even more true in my life
  than it is right now.
Grow me deeper with You in prayer,
  and call me back again and again
  into the secret place of prayer with You.

[This post is part of the “30 Days of Prayer” devotional. Read other posts here.]