Your Kingdom Come…

…or the need for a new imagination. Photo by Artem Sapegin on Unsplash Christians pray the Lord’s Prayer pretty often. Some congregations pray it every Sunday. Many people pray it in their private prayer life. It is safe to say that the Lord’s prayer is central to Christian spirituality. Yet many of us haven’t take time to even consider what we are praying. We just pray it. The words of the Lord’s Prayer become rote and can become hollow. They are intended to transform us. This prayer is powerful and can change us to our core. Here is the prayer if you’re unfamiliar with it, “This, then, is how you should pray: “ ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one....
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Jesus is Lord

Photo by Edwin Andrade on Unsplash NOTE: This is the second in a series on the Evangelical Presbyterian Church’s, The Essentials of our Faith. Scriptural proofs can be found elsewhere. These posts will focus on the “why” and the impact of these statements in our lives. I think the argument can be made that no person in the history of the world has had as much of an impact as Jesus of Nazareth. We mark time before and after him (yes, I know that CE/BCE are the now the primary means of marking time, but they are the same as BC and AD). It is safe to say that no other person has had as much written about him or has been studied so thoroughly. His birth, life, and death have been studied, debated, and marveled at. Jesus is a name that brings a reaction in those who hear the name and in those who say the name. Regardless of your worldview, everyone...
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What Matters Most? Outside or Inside?

Sadly, many Jesus followers struggle with guilt and shame. It’s an epidemic that needs to be addressed and dealt with. For pastors like myself, we need to speak into this issue and challenge the legalism of the new pietism that has developed in many of our circles. Paul writes in Galatians 6, It is those who want to make a good showing in the flesh who would force you to be circumcised, and only in order that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. For even those who are circumcised do not themselves keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they may boast in your flesh. But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. (Galatians 6:12–15, ESV) It struck me today...
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To Be Broadly Liked

A good friend of mine once said, “To follow Jesus is to be loved or hated, not to be broadly liked.” I think about that often. Particularly in these days and times when everyone has a platform and if you speak truth to power or people you will offend someone. As I was reading the closing verses of Galatians the Apostle Paul wrote, It is those who want to make a good showing in the flesh who would force you to be circumcised, and only in order that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. (Galatians 6:12, ESV) In our age I have to wonder what is our “circumcision” issue that draws us into making a “good showing in the flesh” so that we “may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ”? I am coming to the conclusion that we experience this in how we engage with culture. There are many hot button topics that “trigger” folks and so we...
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You Salty?

It’s funny how language changes over time. Words and phrases come to mean very different things as cultures change and progress. When I was a kid, “bad” meant “good” and “sweet” had nothing to do with flavor. A new phrase that my kids drop is, “you feeling salty?” They use it when a friend is whining or complaining about something. It didn’t always mean that. Back in Jesus’ day salt was important for a couple of reasons. First, it was helpful to store food. The other thing it was useful for was flavoring (funny how some things don’t change after 2,000 or so years). In Matthew 5 Jesus is in the midst of his magisterial Sermon on Mount, and he says, “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. “You are the light of the world....
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Peace.

“At once the angel was joined by a huge angelic choir singing God’s praises: Glory to God in the heavenly heights, peace to all men and women on earth who please him.” — Luke 2:13–14, The Message This the fourth week of Advent is when we light the Angel’s candle which points us to peace. Peace is what was proclaimed by the these messengers from heaven as they glorified God at the announcement of the birth of Jesus. This same Jesus would, in a few years say, “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called sons of God.” We live in a tumultuous world. The news is filled with pain and suffering and death. There are wars and rumors of wars. The very creation itself seems to be at unrest as earthquakes and tsunamis and hurricanes are regular occurrences. When you look at your social media it is much the same only more personal. There is little in our world that points toward...
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I Know Him!

There aren’t many Christmas movies as good as Elf. It’s hilarious and it is also poignant. Like most other Christmas movies related to Santa Claus the issue at the center is belief, or the lack thereof. One of the best moments is when Buddy finds ou that Santa is coming to the Mall… This scene has been in my mind for a few days now. I keep thinking about it’s illustrative purposes for me as a follower of Jesus. Buddy’s excitement is overwhelming and full of passion. It is clear that he loves Santa and that he desperately wants others to know him too. Look what happens when he finds out that the real Santa isn’t at the mall… These two clips paint a picture that ought to challenge us as Jesus followers. We do not know an omniscient, legalistic, elf. We know the God of the universe. We know the King of kings and Lord of lords. Isaiah 9:6 describes Jesus this...
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