A Pilgrim Prayer for Nomads

For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God. (Hebrews 11:10)

Abraham the nomad for God and His purposes is also Abraham the pilgrim. At one level, Abraham and Sarah’s journey feels random and strange. They leave their homeland and their extended support network. They leave what is known for what is unknown. From the outside, it could seem that they are merely wandering nomads.

But the eyes of faith see something else. Abraham and Sarah hear God and respond. They live each day, aware of God’s guiding hand and watchful for God’s interrupting grace that will point them toward what is next. Abraham and Sarah wait. They step forward and step back They works and rest. They succeed and they fail. They travel and they are still. And all of this happens in relation to the leading of God. This is the blessed way of those, as Psalm 84:5 says, “whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.”

Lord, lead me into the pilgrim way of faith seen in Abraham and Sarah. Though my ways sometimes feel more like nomadic wanderings than anything else, help me to discern Your hand in the midst of my day. And so, Lord, give me Your vision and guide me into Your purposes for my life that I every day and hour might draw me closer to You than to anything or anyone else. Open my ears to hear and my eyes to see. Strengthen my mind to understand and my heart to yearn for You. In this earthly way be my eternal home both for now and always.

Book Review of Compassion and Conviction: The AND Campaign’s Guide to Faithful Civic Engagement by Justin Giboney, Michael Wear, and Chris Butler

“If there’s one book I should read about faith and politics, what should it be?” Who could really provide an adequate answer to such a question? Should it be voluminous classics like Augustine’s City of God or Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Theologica? What about Abraham Kuyper’s Lectures on Calvinism or Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” and other writings? Or perhaps we should look toward more recent contributions such as Oliver O’ Donovan’s The Desire of the Nations or Richard John Neuhaus’ The Naked Public Square. Finding the one right book would be at best a project of great difficulty, and at worst an exercise in futility.

That being said, if you are looking for one brief book to help you find direction for Christian engagement in the public sphere at this moment in the United States, let me turn your attention to the recent work by Justin Giboney, Michael Wear, and Chris Butler, Compassion & Conviction: The AND Campaign’s Guide to Faithful Civic Engagement (IVP 2020). In contrast to Augustine’s mammoth work in City of God, the authors here provide a crash course in basic civics and Christian political engagement in under 150 pages.

Helpfully rooted in the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) and the Great Requirement (Micah 6:8), Giboney, Wear, and Butler outline a political engagement for Christians that holds simultaneously to love (including justice) and truth (including moral order). It is from this framework that the book takes its name; that is, Christian political engagement involves compassion and conviction.

Building out from the framework constructed in the first chapters, the authors carry forward by exploring a range of topics: how we approach partnerships with those who do not hold our belief system, understanding and utilizing rhetoric in a Christian manner, the thorny topic of politics and race, appropriate advocacy and protest, and the need for civility in the public sphere. Each chapter brings together well-considered biblical and historical thought on the topic with a series of very practical ways to step forward practically in relation to that topic.

Underlying the entire book is the belief that as Christians we can meaningfully engage in the public sphere, even in politics, for the glory of God in a way that does not either forego compassion for others or surrender biblical convictions. While it may not be the first book to recommend from all time on faith and politics, it is certainly an extraordinarily helpful book for our time in the United States as we approach the November election.

A Prayer inspired by Hebrews 12:14-29

image 3 - Hebrews

Throughout our new series “The Final Word: Knowing Christ through Hebrews,” I am writing prayers related to the text on which we are preaching each week. This prayer is drawn from Hebrews 12:14-29. The complete list of prayers inspired by Hebrews is included at the bottom of this post. You can also view my message, “Make Every Effort,” drawn from this passage here.

Holy, holy, holy are You
Lord God Almighty,
who was, and is, and is to come—
You alone are God.

We humbly approach You
knowing that we have nothing in ourselves to bring
other than our emptiness
that only You can fill with Your great provision.

Thank You for your abundant provision
through Jesus Christ, the Mediator of the new covenant.
In Him we have been graced
with every spiritual blessing You could possibly give. 

We trust the blood of Christ
as fully sufficient above every other thing.
We turn from sin and idolatry
to You, the One and Only God.

May our lives be built on Christ alone,
the firm foundation for our faith
and the all-sufficient sacrifice
Who brings us life and salvation.
 

All this we pray through You, Father,
who with Jesus the Eternal Son
and the indwelling Holy Spirit,
are One God, both now and forever.
Amen.


Prayers from Hebrews:

A Prayer inspired by Hebrews 12:1-13

image 3 - Hebrews

Throughout our new series “The Final Word: Knowing Christ through Hebrews,” I am writing prayers related to the text on which we are preaching each week. This prayer is drawn from Hebrews 12:1-13. The complete list of prayers inspired by Hebrews is included at the bottom of this post. You can also view my message, “Run,” drawn from this passage here.

Father,
thank You for Your greatest gift
in Jesus Christ, our Savior and High Priest.

Thank You for Your tender care of us
that enables us to daily walk with You and live for You.

Thank You for Your firm discipline of us
that strengthens us with perseverance for the journey.

Thank You that in all of this You are a good Father to us,
transforming us day by day over the course of our lifetime.

Help us to submit to Your Fatherly care
in both Your tenderness and Your discipline
so that we might look more like Jesus year after year
in every aspect of our lives from top to bottom.

We know this is not something we do ourselves
but that You do this in us by Your great power.
Help us, though, to surrender our lives to You
so that Your kingdom might come and Your will might be done
here on earth as it is in heaven.

All this we pray, Father, in Your name,
who, with Jesus the eternal Son and the Holy Spirit,
reign, One God, both now and forever.
Amen.


Prayers from Hebrews:

What Does It Look Like to Step Out in Faith? [Peter and Faith, part 4]

image 2 - water

“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

“Come,” he said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat. (Matthew 14:28-29)

Peter’s faith leads him to risk stepping out of the boat. He actually steps out in faith to follow Jesus onto the waters in the midst of the waves and wind. Peter shows us what faith looks like. He hasn’t waited for someday. He’s looked and listened for Jesus. And he steps out.

Philippe Petit, a French acrobat and high-wire artist, knows what it means to risk stepping out. In the early 1970s, he heard about the construction of the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York. When he saw a picture of their design, it was like he heard a voice calling him to do something startling and risky.

The 2008 documentary, Man on Wire, tells the story of how, after six years of planning, on August 7th, 1974, Petit and his friends secretly rode a freight elevator 104 stories up into the newly constructed twin towers of the World Trade Center. After stretching a ¾” metal cable across the 200 foot span between the towers, Petit illegally stepped out for a high wire act like no other. With the winds blowing, Philippe Petit was 110 stories—a quarter of a mile—above the sidewalks of Manhattan. 

Man on Wire

He walked the wire for 45 minutes, making eight crossings between the towers. He sat on the wire, gave knee salutes and, while lying on the wire, spoke with a gull circling above his head. After this spell-binding display, Petit was arrested, taken for psychological evaluation, and brought to jail before he was finally released.

Risky faith looks a bit like that. We hear a voice calling us to action. We respond. And then we step out. It may seem startling and risky, but we will do whatever Jesus says.