A Prayer of Adoration in the Morning

“O LORD my God, I cried unto you, and you have made me whole.” (Psalm 30:2)

Early in the morning I draw near to You
to pray, to worship, to be still.

Like the disciples who gathered after Your resurrection
to meet with You again in Galilee,
I bow in worship for You are my Lord and my God,
yet I also hesitate because of myself.
I bring my real self—imperfect and broken,
sinful and self-focused—to You.
Heal me, help me, forgive me, deliver me,
and make me whole in You.

Set me free on the pathway of this day
and walk with me as You show me the road to take.
All my life is Yours for You are worthy of it.
All my minutes are Yours for You reign over them all.

You, God, are my God, my Savior, my King,
my Healer, my Deliverer, and the Lover of my soul.
In the stillness of this early hour I marvel at You—
Your majestic power and Your tender love,
Your steadfast righteousness and Your pervasive justice,
Your unflinching faithfulness and humble holiness.

You, God, are my God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—
and I worship You with my restored life today.

A Morning Prayer of Closeness to God

“Let the dawn bring news
of Your unfailing love
for I put my trust in You.
Show me the road
that I must travel
for You to relieve my heart.”

(Psalm 143:8, NJB)

Early in the morning I draw away
to be only with You.
The time seems to move too quickly
and I know I must step toward what comes next.
But here, in this treasured hour,
this spot of rest and place of being,
I draw near to You—
to hear from You,
to savor You,
to delight in You,
to rest in Your love,
and to share my love with You.
I have nothing in me that is good
save the goodness You planted in me.
Neither am I overcome by evil
because You lavished grace upon me.
Keep me close to You today, God,
for You are my true joy, life, and peace.

The Weekend Wanderer: 8 January 2022

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. Disclaimer: I do not necessarily agree with all the views expressed within the articles


63737“The Danger of Preaching Without Jesus” – Pete Scazzero at Preaching Today: “To preach and teach in the name of Jesus is one of the greatest privileges in the world. What makes it particularly dangerous, however, is how easy it is to preach for Jesus without Jesus. I know this only too well. I was in my early years as a Christian when I first came to grips with the sad truth that God appeared to use prominent Christian leaders whose relationship with Jesus was either nonexistent or seriously underdeveloped. It was a discovery that left me confused and disoriented. Yet, after decades in ministry, I am no longer so confused. Why? Because I have experienced to some degree what it’s like to be one of those leaders. I have prepared and preached sermons without thinking about or spending time with Jesus. I know the experience of doing good things that helped a lot of people while being too busy in my own whirlwind of leadership worries to be intimately connected to Jesus.”


St Basil the Great“Naked We Came: From the sermon ‘I Will Tear Down My Barns,’ on Luke 12:16–21” – St. Basil the Great in Comment: “‘But whom do I treat unjustly,’ you say, ‘by keeping what is my own?’ Tell me, what is your own? What did you bring into this life? From where did you receive it? It is as if someone were to take the first seat in the theater, then bar everyone else from attending, so that one person alone enjoys what is offered for the benefit of all in common—this is what the rich do. They seize common goods before others have the opportunity, then claim them as their own by right of preemption. For if we all took only what was necessary to satisfy our own needs, giving the rest to those who lack, no one would be rich, so no one would be poor, and no one would be in need. Did you not come forth naked from the womb, and will you not return naked to the earth? Where then did you obtain your belongings? If you say that you acquired them by chance, then you deny God since you neither recognize your Creator, nor are you grateful to the One who gave these things to you.”


silence-in-worship“A worship practice Zoom can’t replicate” – Chris Palmer in The Christian Century: “I’m a relatively new pastor, and most of my clerical life—all but two months—has been spent in the grip of the COVID pandemic. I’ve spent more time than I care to admit trying to mitigate the suspicions of corporate bodies in physical space. Are you sure this will give people six feet of distance? Looking at the numbers, should we delay the sacrament again this week? These past months have also revealed the fragile core of the church’s life together. The nation has moved through cultural upheaval that demands the intimacy of proximity, and yet it has been nearly impossible to gather together. I’ve seen cruel words in emails that I never believed Christians could write. I’ve heard pastors, the progenitors of flourishing ministries, detail their excitement thinking about a career change. It’s hard to imagine that there’s no connection between the physical distance and the disenchantment of our time. Much of our nation’s religious practice has migrated online. Facebook has been partnering with a variety of denominations, including my own, to develop digi­tal spaces for online worshipers. How are we being formed by these technologies? What do they make possible, and what do they make impossible? While many have debated the blessings and woes of digital worship, few have discussed the role of silence. Silence cuts against the grain of disembodied online chatter. A shared, instructive silence is one thing I’m convinced that Zoom cannot facilitate, not even with the mute button.”


hill_complex_render_2“Unearthing the Truth: A Zimbabwean archaeologist reimagines the story of a momentous African civilisation” – In The Economist: “in its prime, from around 1200 to 1550, Great Zimbabwe was home to about 10,000 people. The state covered 1,779 acres, more than twice the area of New York’s Central Park. unesco, the un’s cultural body, declared it a world heritage site in 1986. At independence in 1980 Robert Mugabe renamed Rhodesia Zimbabwe (roughly “house of stone”) after the site. Yet it is far less visited, or understood, than Machu Picchu, say, or Egypt’s pyramids. One scholar has made it his life’s work to show how Great Zimbabwe was the foremost example of a precolonial sub-Saharan African state. Shadreck Chirikure was born in 1978, some 60km from Great Zimbabwe in Gutu, a town in eastern Zimbabwe. At school he learned little about the site. His first visit was as a student, aged 22. He has since made up for lost time. A renowned archaeologist, Mr Chirikure is a professor at the University of Cape Town and the University of Oxford. He has worked across Africa. But he is always drawn back home.”


Pope Francis - pets“Opting for pets over children is selfish and ‘takes away our humanity,’ says Pope Francis” – Joshua Berlinger at CNN: “Pope Francis has criticized couples who choose to have pets instead of children as selfish, arguing that their decision to forgo parenthood leads to a loss of ‘humanity’ and is a detriment to civilization. The Pope made the comments Wednesday while speaking to a general audience about Saint Joseph, Jesus’ earthly father. Francis was lauding Joseph’s decision to bring up Jesus as ‘among the highest forms of love’ when he veered into the topic of adoption and orphaned children today. He then turned his focus on couples that opt for animals instead of children. ‘We see that people do not want to have children, or just one and no more. And many, many couples do not have children because they do not want to, or they have just one — but they have two dogs, two cats … Yes, dogs and cats take the place of children,’ the Pope said.”


ridley-8-scaled“In ‘Wild Design,’ Vintage Illustrations Expose the Patterns and Shapes Behind All Life on Earth” – Grace Ebert at Colossal: “Focusing on the patterns and shapes that structure the planet, a new book published by Princeton Architectural Press explores the science behind a trove of organically occurring forms. Wild Design: Nature’s Architects by author Kimberly Ridley pairs dozens of vintage illustrations—spot the work of famed German biologist Ernst Haeckel among them—with essays detailing the function of the striking phenomena, from the smallest organisms to the monumental foundations that extend across vast swaths of land. These structures are simultaneously beautiful and crucial to life on Earth and include the sprawling mycelium networks connecting life above and below ground, the papery, hexagonal cells comprising honeycomb, and a spider’s funnel-like web tailored to trap its prey.”


Music: Chris Thile, “Ecclesiastes 2:24,” Laysongs

The Weekend Wanderer: 9 October 2021

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. Disclaimer: 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.


Ed Stetzer“When will Christians learn from the unending engagement cycle of evangelicalism and race?” – Ed Stetzer in USAToday: “As the executive director of the Wheaton College Billy Graham Center, one of my joys is leading people through our museum. Filled with historical artifacts and pictures, it’s a testimony to God’s faithfulness. One of my favorite pictures is of Billy Graham standing next to Martin Luther King Jr. I start by telling people how Graham took down segregation ropes for his meetings in the South. But the story doesn’t stop there. Historian Grant Wacker notes that as the civil rights movement intensified, Graham distanced himself from King by attempting to chart a moderate path. Decades later, Graham himself would speak of his lack of engagement in the civil rights movement as one of his great regrets. This same story of engagement, retreat and regret has come to define an evangelical culture that is bigger than Billy Graham. For more than a century, the broader evangelical movement has been in a cycle of engagement when opportunities arise, retreat when pressures and obstacles intensify, and regret at the failure to achieve any lasting change. Worse, the burden of this regret too frequently falls on evangelicals of color, as they are left abandoned only to be greeted with new promises next cycle.”


1067980“Donetsk: Three Protestant churches banned” – Felix Corley at Forum 18: “The unrecognised Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) in eastern Ukraine, has this summer banned three Protestant churches. One of the churches appears still able to meet for worship as it tries to gain registration. The rebel entity’s latest Religion Law change restricts registered religious associations’ activities to “participants and/or members”. In June the Culture Minister ordered musical and other artistic institutions to display lists of banned books & organisations.”


Biopolitics“‘Biopolitics’ Are Unavoidable” – Matthew Loftus at Mere Orthodoxy: “In the struggle to fight COVID-19, terms like ‘public health’ and ‘community health’ have been bandied about in an attempt to describe the ways in which our health as individuals is not dependent on ourselves alone. Wendell Berry says: ‘I believe that the community — in the fullest sense: a place and all its creatures — is the smallest unit of health and that to speak of the health of an isolated individual is a contradiction in terms.’ Berry’s statement speaks to our intuition that not only our individual activities, but also the health of the people, animals, plants, microbes, air, water, and soil around us all affect our health and we in turn affect them. As often as modern human beings would like to think of themselves as autonomous agents who determine their own bodily destinies, the reality is that the only appreciable limit to our contingency is how many things around us we can name. From this observation about the nature of our bodies we can move to a theological understanding of health.”


GettyImages-1234554084-e1628612279165“The Bible and COVID Vaccines” – Mark Talbot at The Center for Pastor Theologians: “Does the Bible offer us any insight into whether we should take the COVID vaccine? I think it does when we think through the implications of the early chapters of Genesis. Right before God made the first human beings, he declared why he was making them: ‘Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground’ (Gen. 1:26). God made us to be his earthly images who would represent him by ruling wisely and lovingly over the rest of creation. Then, immediately after making our first parents, he gave them what is often called the creation mandate; namely, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth’ (Gen. 1:28). God, as the psalmist puts it, gave the earth to us (see Ps. 115:16). We are meant to rule over it by exercising dominion over the animals and subduing whatever needs to be subdued.”


typewriter“5 Contemporary Poets Christians Should Read” – Mischa Willett at The Gospel Coalition: “I’m always a little sad after a poetry reading when someone comes up and tells me they’re ‘really into Christian poets,’ and when I ask excitedly ‘which ones?’ they rattle off a short list that ends with Gerard Manley Hopkins or George Herbert. Not that those poets aren’t required reading—absolute masters of the form and of the heart’s hows—but because there is so much good crop still being pulled from the fertile fields of theologically inflected verse. I always wish I carried around a backpack full of books by Mark Jarman, or Jennifer Maier, or Dana Gioia, to thrust into their readerly hands, beaming, ‘It’s still happening!’ It would be a kind of ministry, edifying the body thus. Here then is my own short list of contemporary poets of faith Christians should read.”


Justice Songs“Why Don’t We Sing Justice Songs in Worship?” – Michael J. Rhodes in Christianity Today: “In 2018, an unusual Bible made national news. Published in 1807, the so-called ‘Slave Bible’ offered Caribbean slaves a highly edited edition of the KJV. The editors presumably cut out parts of Scripture that could undermine slavery or incite rebellion. If you want a pro-slavery Bible, it’s unsurprising you’d get rid of the exodus story or drop Paul’s declaration that in Christ ‘there is … neither slave nor free’ (Gal. 3:28). But why did the creators of the ‘Slave Bible’ cut out the Book of Psalms? After all, the portions that tend to be well known and well-loved draw our minds toward well-tended sheep sitting by quiet waters. Yet upon closer inspection, Psalms is obsessed with the Lord’s liberating justice for the oppressed. And because the book offers us prayers and songs, it doesn’t just tell us how to think about justice—it offers us scripts to practice shouting and singing about it. But when I recently took a quick look at the lyrics of the first 25 songs listed in the ‘CCLI Top 100′ worship songs reportedly sung by churches and compared them to the way the Psalms sing about justice, I realized that we don’t necessarily follow that script.”


Music: Tim Hughes, “God of Justice,” Holding Nothing Back.

The Weekend Wanderer: 2 October 2021

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. Disclaimer: 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.


St Augustine burning heart“The Greatest Care Is Needed: Augustine on Moral Discernment and Church Leadership” – Joey Sherrard at Center for Pastor Theologians: “Augustine of Hippo was one of the first and greatest catechists of the church. He was a pastor in a time of great conflict and schism, a time when the church was beset by external challenges and internal turmoil. And one his most important pastoral responses to the crises he faced was the work of catechesis – the instruction and formation of men and women in the truths and implications of the Christian faith. A fruit of that ministry was a catechetical handbook he wrote for his fellow pastors, On Instructing Beginners in the Faith. It’s a remarkable combination of theological conviction and practical counsel, and from that little volume I’d like to draw two implications for pastors today in our own time of turmoil – specifically the turmoil caused by abuse within the local church.”


Noonday Demon“Varieties of the Noonday Demon” – Kurt Armstrong in Comment: “A quick scan of the Canadian Mental Health Association website tells me that in a normal year, one in five Canadians will experience some sort of mental health problem or mental illness. At least 8 or 9 percent will suffer major depression at some point in their lives, 2 percent live with chronic depression, 1 percent are bipolar. If we were to zoom in then on an average Sunday morning at my little neighbourhood Anglican church, it would follow that about thirty-five people will suffer some kind of mental illness this year, fourteen will suffer major depression at some point, three or four are chronic depressives, and one or two are bipolar. No doubt the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed all those numbers higher. But even before the pandemic, the actual numbers at my church would have been above average. Not because Anglicanism is especially bad for mental health, but because the little congregation I am a part of attracts a disproportionate number of sensitive, creative, and intelligent women and men, precisely the kind of people who tend to suffer more mental health trouble than most. It’s a good place to be when you’re low, especially the Sunday evening service, when the lights are dimmed, attendance is sparse, and the service includes long periods of silence. Plus, the chances of hearing a cheery, don’t-worry-be-happy kind of sermon are next to nil. If you are depressed, it’s a good place to sit for an hour at the end of a Sunday.”


_112099487_church“Young more likely to pray than over-55s – survey” – From Harry Farley at the BBC: “Young people in the UK are twice as likely as older people to pray regularly, a new survey has found. Some 51% of 18 to 34-year-olds polled by Savanta ComRes said they pray at least once a month, compared with 24% of those aged 55 and over. It also found 49% of the younger age group attend a place of worship every month, compared with 16% of over-55s. The associate director of Savanta said the numbers could reflect the move to online worship during the pandemic. Chris Hopkins added that there were ‘a few theories’ as to why young people made up such a large proportion of the religious landscape.”


webRNS-Kirk-Franklin-LeanOnMe1-092821-640x640“Kirk Franklin rereleases ‘Lean on Me’ with virtual global children’s choir” – Adelle M. Banks at Religion News Service: “Kirk Franklin, like many musicians, has pivoted to online performances during the COVID-19 pandemic. The 16-Grammy winner brought his contemporary gospel music to NPR’s Tiny Desk, and he took part in a virtual benefit to draw attention to poor children across the world whose lives have been changed by COVID-19. On Friday (Sept. 24), Franklin’s entertainment company and Compassion International jointly rereleased a remake of his “Lean on Me” single featuring a virtual choir of more than 120 youth who live in 25 countries where the humanitarian organization has a presence.”


Dante Purgatorio“Reading Dante’s Purgatory While the World Hangs in the Balance” – Judith Thurman in The New Yorker: “Fifty years ago, I was a guest at the baptism of a friend’s son in the ancient church of a Tuscan hamlet. It was Easter, and lambing season. A Sardinian shepherd who tended the flocks of a local landowner came to pay his respects to the new parents. He was a wild-looking man with matted hair whose harsh dialect was hard to understand. Among our party was a beauty of fifteen, an artist’s daughter, and the shepherd took such a fancy to her that he asked for her hand. The girl’s father politely declined, and the shepherd, to show that he had no hard feelings, offered us a lamb for our Paschal dinner. My friends were penniless bohemians, so the gift was welcome. It came, however, with a condition: we had to watch the lamb being slaughtered. The blood sacrifice took place after the baptism. That morning, the baby’s godfather, an expatriate writer, had caused a stir in the church, since none of the villagers, most of them farmers, had ever seen a Black man in person. Some tried to touch his hands, to see if the color would rub off; there was a sense of awe among them, as if one of the Magi had come to visit. Toward the end of the ceremony, the moment came for the sponsors to ‘renounce Satan and . . . all his seductions of sin and evil.’ The godfather had been raised in a pious community, and he entered into the spirit of this one. His own experience of malevolence had taught him, as he wrote, that life ‘is not moral.’ Yet he stood gravely at the font and vowed, ‘Rinuncio.'”


Josh McDowell“Christian author Josh McDowell steps away from ministry after comments about Black, minority families” – Bob Smietana at Religion News Service: “A best-selling Christian author and speaker denounced the idea of systemic racism at a national gathering of Christian counselors, saying Black Americans and other minorities were not raised to value hard work or education. Josh McDowell, best known for his book Evidence that Demands a Verdict and other books defending the Christian faith, gave a speech Saturday (Sept. 18) at a meeting of the American Association of Christian Counselors. The talk, entitled ‘The Five Greatest Global Epidemics,’ identified a series of threats McDowell claims face the Christian church. The first, he said, was critical race theory, an academic field of study on the nature of systemic racism. Known by the acronym CRT, critical race theory has become controversial among Christian conservatives and political conservatives alike.”


Music: Brian Eno with Daniel Lanois and Roger Eno, “An Ending (Ascent),” fromApollo – Atmospheres & Soundtracks.