Speak that we may Speak ~ A Prayer

Creator God,
in the beginning You spoke life into existence.
To remain silent, then,
would have meant our non-existence
and
it would have meant no one to glorify Your holy name.
And so we exist;
to worship You, to praise You, to glorify You.
And to do this we must speak and abhor silence.

Holy God,
stir in Your people a burning desire
to speak the Truth of Your love and grace through Jesus Christ.
May the fear the world proclaims
be silenced through our faith in the one who overcame the world,
Jesus.
May the flaming arrows of the evil one
lose all its potency through Your holy Word.
May the shield of faith
embolden us to speak the name of Jesus no matter the situation.

Send now Your Holy Spirit
to bring power to the words of Truth
that we will hear this morning,
for through them You create faith and thus life.
Send us forth, then, in Your power
to the glory of Your awesome name,
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
Amen.

The Pastor -|—

Speaking ~ good; silence ~ bad

I am finishing the sermon for tomorrow and wanted to share this little tid bit with you before I posting the prayer I wrote for the closing of the sermon:

In the Gospel of Mark, chapter 14, Jesus is on trial before the high priest. During the trial, (false) witnesses came forward with testimony against Jesus, but with one glaring problem: Their testimony did not agree. More witnesses came forward but still could not agree. And when asked by the high priest to answer these charges, Jesus remained silent. At this point, there was nothing to convict Jesus and thus remaining silent could have meant his freedom because after all, the truth was on his side but also THE Truth was on his side, and thus silence is not an option.

So the high priest eventually chimes in to ask if Jesus was the Son of God, and Jesus breaks his silence to speak the Truth; signing his own death certificate. All Jesus had to do, to save his life, was remain silent, but he spoke the Truth to set you free.

And what about you, do you remain silent about the Truth of God; about the Gospel. Sure, it may be easier to remain silent in this world that is hell bent on discrediting Christians, but what does that silence achieve? To remain silent may secure your comfort but it may mean eternal death for someone else if they don’t hear about Jesus. Silence may be easy for you but it may come with a high cost for someone else.

But really, if you truly know the Truth of God through Jesus Christ, how does one keep silent. Speak, for the truth has already set you free. Let’s pray…

All honor, glory and worship be unto You,
oh God,
for the awesome gift of life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
All thanksgiving be to You
for giving us Your Holy Spirit to sustain us.
All praise be to You,
Holy God,
for receiving redeemed sinners into Your presence through Jesus.
May we be so bold to speak and abhor silence when it comes to the Good News of Jesus.
May proclaiming Your grace and love be as natural to us as breathing,
as we look forward to that day when we begin worshiping You
forever and ever
in Your glorious kingdom.
Through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior, I pray,
Amen.

The Pastor -|—

Good and Beautiful God

Holy God,
Good and Beautiful,
help me to know you better;
help me to see your holiness,
that I may strive to serve you better.

Holy God,
Good and Beautiful,
help me to love you more;
help me to see your children better,
that them I may adore.

Holy God,
Good and Beautiful,
help me draw closer to you;
help me to learn your holy law,
for to you glory and honor is due.

Holy God,
Good and Beautiful,
help me to savor your grace;
help me forgive my neighbor more,
that them I may embrace.

Holy God,
Good and Beautiful,
help me…
for it is you I want to please,
and You I want to see.

The Pastor -|—

A Spiritual Kick in the Pants

Pursuing Christ is not an occasional hobby to receive some spiritual high but rather a way of life because he loves you.

The above quote is something I wrote and posted on my Twitter feed (Feisty Pastor, @EricSpeakingUp). I wrote it because of personal experience; using spiritual practices to feel good and/or (believe it or not) to ensure that things will go my way. I would engage in spiritual practices; diving into scripture, writing, reading theology books, praying and meditation, to find this closeness with God and thus feel this sense of peace. And I would continue this for awhile until something would happen or I would slowly fall out of “practice”. And after going through a low time or feeling nervous about something coming up, I would start all over again.

Basically, using God as a drug to deal with life.

The weird thing is, deep down inside, I knew something wasn’t right but yet I kept at it because God was (and is) always faithful. God gave me this sense of peace when I would pursue Christ. And of course God knew what I was doing but yet God continued to love me and bless me with this peace. Part of me wishes that God would not have done that because I definitely did not deserve it.

I am not sure what happened but some spiritual kick in the pants woke me up to the reality of what I was doing. Maybe it was God’s love that kicked me. Maybe this peace that surpasses all understanding overwhelmed me to the point of conviction. I am not sure, but whatever it was I saw the error of my ways. But more importantly, I saw what I was missing.

An intimate relationship with my Lord and Savior, Jesus.

The fact of the matter is, pursuing Christ is NOT a hobby. A hobby is something we do to take a break from life. It’s also something that does not consume one’s life (at least it shouldn’t). A hobby is only a part-time commitment. One of my hobbies is reading, but I only do that in my free time. Jesus being a hobby means that Jesus is not really part of your life. It means that you control the terms of the relationship. It means you are in charge. And this flies in the face of what it means for Jesus to be your Lord. A lord is in charge, not the subject.

But also, it flies in the face of what it means for Jesus to be your Savior. Jesus has saved me from my sins through dying on the cross. Through faith, Jesus has saved me from eternal condemnation. Through faith, Jesus gives a comfort that gives me strength no matter what this world throws at me. And therefore, why wouldn’t anyone want to get to know this Savior better and be close to him ALL the time?

Knowing this and receiving this should move “pursuing Jesus” from hobby status to a way of life, and not to get a spiritual high to get through your day, but rather to get to know this Lord and Savior better and better. Pursuing Jesus, then, is something that is every bit natural as breathing is natural.

If pursing Jesus is only a part time activity or hobby in your life, then you don’t know Jesus; you don’t understand what he did FOR YOU. Pursue Jesus ALL the time because he loves you and has died and risen FOR YOU. Pursue Jesus not for some spiritual high but because you want a relationship with him. Pursue Jesus FULL TIME.

Pursue Jesus and live with eternal joy as you look forward to living with Him on high.

The Pastor -|—

Grace and Mercy ~ A Prayer

Father God,

Your grace and mercy is something that doesn’t make sense.
I mean, sinners, us, receiving mercy and forgiveness.
Sinners receiving chance after chance to change our ways and be obedient.
Sinners who constantly turn on You.
Sinners who would much rather be their own god
or acquiesce to weak worldly gods.

To reflect on such depravity sends chills up and down my spine.
But it is because of such depravity
that Jesus comes.
It is because of such darkness within
that Jesus is betrayed into the hands of sinners.
It is because of such self-glorification
that Jesus dies and rises,
FOR US.

Oh God,
may Your Spirit continue to shine the light of Truth in our hearts
that we may always run to You.
And once in Your arms
may all worship and thanksgiving be given to You
for Your incredible grace and mercy.
Oh God, there is no god like You
and therefore You are worthy of all praise.
All glory be unto You, oh God, through Christ Jesus our Lord,

Amen.

The Pastor -|—

Be BOLD

Here’s a morning rant for you so please excuse my language…

There is a lot of crap going on in the world. I surf social media and read news stories and I am blown away by the depravity that is out there. I can hardly believe it when I hear and read about people reveling in calling good evil and evil good.

What is going on?!?

I know, I know, we live in a sinful world, but where are all the voices? Where are all the people who follow Jesus Christ? Why isn’t there more of an outcry?

Yesterday, the people responsible for bringing to light the evil practices of Planned Parenthood were indicted instead of Planned Parenthood. How is this possible. Granted, I am not a legal expert and maybe there are facts that I am not aware of, but come on, this makes no sense. Never mind that fact that people are being killed before they even get to see the light of day. And then there are the politicians that are lauding this decision; calling evil good. That I get because they don’t care about those babies since they are not voters.

In any case, we need boldness…

And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, (Acts 4:29)

Following Pentecost, Peter and John heal a crippled man in the temple and then go on to proclaim the risen Jesus Christ. The Pharisees are not the least bit happy and demand that they no longer speak of Jesus. Upon returning to their church, Peter and John report what happened and what was said. Instead of cowering in fear of the authorities, the church worships God and prays for more boldness to speak of the Gospel.

My friends, we need to pray for more boldness and speak of Jesus. We need more boldness and speak the truth. We need not fear the this world. As this Acts Church prayed from Psalm 2,  “‘Why did the Gentiles rage, and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers were gathered together, against the Lord and against his Anointed’— The nations can rage all they want against God’s anointed, but guess what?

They can not win.

Through faith in Jesus Christ we have been given the gift of the Holy Spirit and therefore you are on the side of power and victory. Pray for boldness. Stand up for the truth. Do not be silent. The nations may rage against you, but you have Jesus.

Be BOLD! Be STRONG! For the Lord your God is with you.

The Pastor -|—

Abba Father ~ A Prayer

Abba Father,

we come in awe of your incredible love
as we think about what Jesus did for sinners.

He marched toward the cross
where he would take the sins of the world upon his shoulders.
Jesus faced a wrath
that was and is rightly ours.
Jesus took the punishment
that we deserve.

Abba Father,

we are humbled by such love
and blown away by such grace.
May the words we hear proclaimed this morning
be holy words that come from you;
that we may be Spirit-fed.
May the Good News of Jesus Christ
embolden us to be faithful unto death
as we proclaim the life and death of Jesus.

Come Holy Spirit, come;
opening our eyes and ears to see God’s glory.
It’s in Jesus name I pray,

Amen.

The Pastor -|—