An Advent Prayer for Attention and Anticipation

•December 10, 2008 • 2 Comments

Please read this read to yourself and then aloud for the next week.  Meditate on the words and place them deep within your soul……………..


Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, you who lead your people like a flock.  You who are enthroned on the cherubim, shine forth. (Psalm 80:1)   From ages past no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who works for those who wait for him.  (Isaiah 64:4)

Come Holy Spirit and inaugurate Advent in our midst.  Come and open up the book of a new year of our Lord.  Lift our hearts to long for your coming and loose our longing to imagine your Kingdom. 

We confess—Advent, the season of holy anticipation, has become for us a sign of anxiety.  Like Martha, we busy ourselves with so many things, preparing for a celebration of our own design.  We confess—our attention has become distraction.  Our hearts, minds and souls are divided as we literally surf the channels of our consumeristic culture. Yet, O LORD, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.  (Isaiah 64:8)  Begin anew this Advent to shape us.  Make us like Mary to sit at the feet of our Lord Jesus and discover the only necessary thing:  your Presence. Restore us, O God; let your face shine, that we may be saved.  Shape these days of Advent into a season of undivided attention; of holy anticipation.  

As we sing of peace on Earth and good will to all people, open our ears to hear the mournful songs of a war-torn world; the unquenchable cries of ordinary families like our own whose losses are beyond our ability to comprehend.  As we prepare to wrap the countless gifts our children will open on Christmas morning, open our hearts to the countless children for whom Christmas morning will be yet another day to survive.  Lead us to respond to you in remembering them who will otherwise receive nothing, who are orphaned, whose parents are dead, distant or imprisoned.  Open our eyes to see those neighbors nearest to us who are lonely, afraid, sick and suffering.  We confess, our lifestyles have become enclaves of escape from the pain and suffering that surrounds us. Yet, O LORD, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.  (Isaiah 64:8)  Let this year be different, Lord.  Shape our attention in these days of Advent into a lifestyle of love for neighbor and the needy.   

Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, you who lead your people like a flock.  You who are enthroned on the cherubim, shine forth.  (Psalm 80:1)  O that you would tear open the heavens and come down, so that the mountains would quake at your presence.  (Isaiah 64:1)  As we remember and celebrate the birth of the baby in Bethlehem, let us not forget that the King is returning.  We confess we have made ourselves at home in a World that is not our home.  We know a time is coming when the sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light; when the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.  We know the Son of Man will come on the clouds with great power and glory and he will send out his angels to gather his elect from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.  (Matthew 13:24-27)  Stir in our hearts a holy anticipation for the World to come, and an undying urgency for the world that is passing away.  By your Spirit make us watchful and wakeful.  For you, O LORD, are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.  (Isaiah 64:8) 

Come Holy Spirit and inaugurate Advent in our midst.  Come and open up the book of a new year of our Lord.  Hear us as we pray: 

Our Father, who art in heaven. . . . .  (continue the prayer)


Prayer taken from Praying the Story, (Dunnam & Walt)

Happy Advent!!!

•December 3, 2008 • Leave a Comment

http://asburyseminary.blogs.com/.a/6a00d8341c810e53ef010536281cc6970b-pi

Welcome to the Season of Advent and a brand new year of following Jesus in the power of the Word and Holy Spirit. Thanks for being patient as we have gotten our act together. For the next four weeks we intend to slowly unfold the story with the hope of slowing our walk into a contemplative pace. 

As we journey through the Story of the Scriptures this next year, we want to do more than read. We want to “Practice the Story” together. As we discussed at Downpour “Christ is caught more so than he is taught”, thus the reason of placing so much importance on “Practicing the Story”. That being said we would love for you to begin with this reading below:

Week 1. Reading The Prophecy of Isaiah

Oh that you would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains might quake at your presence—as when fire kindles brushwood and the fire causes water to boil— to make your name known to your adversaries, and that the nations might tremble at your presence! When you did awesome things that we did not look for, you came down, the mountains quaked at your presence. From of old no one has heard or perceived by the ear, no eye has seen a God besides you, who acts for those who wait for him. You meet him who joyfully works righteousness, those who remember you in your ways. Behold, you were angry, and we sinned; in our sins we have been a long time, and shall we be saved? We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. e all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away. There is no one who calls upon your name, who rouses himself to take hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us, and have made us melt in the hand of our iniquities. But now, O LORD, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand. Be not so terribly angry, O LORD, and remember not iniquity forever.Behold, please look, we are all your people.

Isaiah 64:1-9 (ESV)

You can actually buy someones sole!

•November 10, 2008 • Leave a Comment

The 50,000 Pairs in 50 Days Challenge

Starting today, Soles4Souls will be launching the 50K in 50 days Charity Campaign.  We are spreading the word to all our supporters and partners to help raise money to buy 50,000 pairs of shoes in just 50 days!  Over 300 million people around the world don’t have shoes and are
forced to walk around unsafe and in potentially life-threatening
conditions and this is a very simple way to help do something about it.  So I want to keep this short.  If you haven’t yet, please

  1. Donate your $5 or more (it will take you under 2 minutes!) to buy 2 pairs of shoes for someone by clicking the above banner or here
  2. Once you’ve donated post this to your Facebook/ Myspace profile and get others involeved.
  3. Invite your friends to this website so they can know & do the same.
  4. Email everyone you know to donate. Here’s some text I’ve been using!  “Hey everyone!  Today launched the 50k in 50 days campaign. A great charity in Nashville is trying to get money to buy 50,000 pairs of shoes raised in 50 days…The cool thing is only $5 buys 2 pairs of shoes!!  It takes under 2 minutes to donate and only three clicks – super easy!  So if you think this is something you can do…five bucks, three clicks, two minutes = two pairs of shoes to someone in need, just visit http://www.50000shoes.com.  More importantly, this can only happen if we spread the word…so please forward this on to anyone you know…the people you work with, your mom, whoever!!  Oh, and one person who donated will win a trip to Mexico to hand deliver the shoes they bought to someone who has never owned shoes before. Could you imagine giving someone their very first pair of shoes?  All donations are tax deductible of course.  Thanks for your support!”
  5. Leave a comment on the message boards about when you donated or how you’re spreading the word!

This is a chance to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. Please give, and then tell your friends. Just think for a
moment….what if you didn’t have a single pair of shoes??

Who would Jesus choose? by Vanessa Petersen

•November 4, 2008 • Leave a Comment
Who would Jesus choose?

Who would Jesus choose?

Ecclesiastes 1:10 Is there anything of which one can say,
                      “Look! This is something new”?
                      It was here already, long ago;
                      it was here before our time.

This is a thought I have a lot during presidential races. Jon has talked a lot lately about how this generation is cynical. I am no exception. I don’t do politics. I fully acknowledge that there are people called by God to make a difference in the political arena. It’s not my shtick. Every four years, people think about who is “running the country” for a couple months and then they go back to their regular routine: complaining about who is “running the country.”

Don’t get me wrong. I vote. I take full advantage of the work of sister suffragists. I understand the three prong governing system and I support it. Checks and balances all the way. But it is silly to me the pressures put on our leaders to “save” us. From the economy, from war, from debt, from busted levees. Head’s up folks! Those are the consequences of the billions of people in the world sinning. In Christ, we have a Savior, not a Fairy God Brother. The cross took the eternal punishment for sin, not the worldly consequences.

The great irony in politics these days is that even though conservative Christian values are scoffed at (by people in all parties), they are exactly what politicians use to point out what other people are doing wrong and what they are doing right. I thought morals were personal preferences now? Hmm, maybe they’re based on something larger, more substantial? 

The Bible has a lot to say about what we should look for in leadership. Now realize that these are principles for Leadership and requirements for shepherd/ Pastors. This lisHere’s 1 Timothy 3:1-7, edited a bit for way it’s been used in the political arena lately:

“Here is a trustworthy saying: If anyone sets his (or her) heart on being an overseer(president/ vice-president), he (or she) desires a noble task. Now the overseer must be above reproach (speech analysts, body language analysts, clothing analysts, no votes cast on both sides of the issue, no lobbyist money in the bank account), the husband of but one wife (divorces are seriously scrutinized, bigamy is so not ok, interns are off limits), temperate (anyone remember McCain’s woo-hoo heard ‘round the world before the primaries?) self-controlled (ditto), respectable (treat all of us worker bees right, shall we), hospitable (kiss those babies), able to teach (a.k.a. explain why your plan for economic and security issues is going to work), not given to drunkenness (can’t have a lush taking the oath of office), not violent but gentle (able to send troops anywhere at a moment’s notice, don’t want a hot head at that trigger) , not quarrelsome (diplomatic stuff very important), not a lover of money (anyone remember Ross Perot?). He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respectIf anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?(or for this context, if he or she can’t manage their family, how are they supposed to run the USA) He must not be a recent convert (don’t want someone who just decided to trade sides of the congressional isle, Lieberman), or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil (party he/she  just left). He must also have a good reputation with outsiders (bi-partisan support, North Korea, Iran), so that he will not fall into disgrace (three letters: WMD) and into the devil’s trap.”

My economics 100 professor in college explained the difference between the two major parties like this: Democrats fix things for now, Republicans see what can work for the long run. Agree or disagree, that’s your business. Not all Republicans are crusty old pro-life evangelists and not all Democrats are young pro-choice agnostics. “Obama for Change” or “Country First.” It’s your choice.

Jeremiah 17:5 This is what the LORD says:
                    “Cursed is the one who trusts in man,
                     who depends on flesh for his strength
                     and whose heart turns away from the LORD.

One thing remains the same and as Christ followers we need to recognize it: God is the only hope for our country. As Pastor Dan Southerland and company have said in the past couple months, “The local church is God’s plan A. There is no plan B.”

 

 

 

 

Letters (or a comment) to the Next President

•October 16, 2008 • 4 Comments



Okay, last night was the last debate (thank you God) and by now chances are you have pretty much decided who you are going to vote for in the upcoming election (assuming you are going to vote).  Though I don’t know who is going to win the election I do know that one of the two men pictured above will be the President of the United States.  Now once one of them is within the oval Office he will pick his advisers and confidants to guide him throughout this journey.  Imagine being one of those people, imagine what it would be like to sit and have the undivided attention of the most powerful person on earth………. What would you say?  What advise would you give? What is at the top of his to do list?

  • Economy?
  • War in Iraq?
  • Healthcare?
  • Education?
  • Something else?

Well here is you opportunity, this is your chance to say whatever is on your mind about our nation and about his leadership.  This is your opportunity to tell our next president what he should prioritize and perhaps change in America.  So here we are please comment below and tell our next president what you think.

Confessions of a gay worship leader

•September 18, 2008 • 3 Comments

Most weeks I will be posting here on the blog but I think that is important to get a chorus of voices talking about what they see God doing. This is why I invited my friend Josh Hill to post this week and this is what he had to say….



As strange as this may sound, this little piece of news hit me really hard today:

Christians Shocked, Saddened Over Boltz’s Homosexuality

There is shock and sadness in the Christian community over word that famed Christian vocalist Ray Boltz has publicly announced he’s living a homosexual lifestyle. In an interview with the Washington Blade about the announcement, Boltz said, “If this is the way God made me, then this is the way I’m going to live…I really feel closer to God because I no longer hate myself.” Boltz, a father of four who was married for 33 years before officially divorcing his wife this year, is well-known for his widely acclaimed songs “Thank You” and “I Pledge Allegiance to the Lamb.”

My dad listened to Ray a lot when I was young, when the “Contemporary Christian” genre and the modern praise and worship movement were in their early stages. Because of that, his music has a special place in my heart. I cried when I heard “Thank You” the first time; the same with “I Pledge Allegiance to the Lamb”. Lame, probably, but the message in those songs is powerful and, I believe, Spirit-filled. So, I feel a sense of personal loss at the news, and I’m grieving for Ray’s family, the loss of his personal ministry, and definitely for Ray himself.

Now, the subject of the news itself is nothing new in the recent (and not so recent) history of the Evangelical body. There are countless examples of men (and women) — many in a much more prominent position than Boltz currently holds — who have had very public failures, or who have made public declarations about their beliefs or lifestyles that are in direct opposition to the Word. Leaders are human, and ‘prone to wander’ as much as the rest of us; scripture makes that plain. But the Bible also explains that leaders are held to a higher standard (see the note to teachers in James chapter 3 for one example). With that higher standard comes greater blessing and opportunity, but it can also bring more pressure, and certainly more attacks from Satan. One of the great battles the modern church has to address is the battle of sexual sin. This is one of Satan’s favorite weapon’s in his arsenal, and he goes to it frequently and, sadly, with a great success rate. Ray’s sin is one of the many varieties of sexual sin Satan uses to trap believers. He obviously struggled with it for a long time, and I assume he struggled silently and on his own. He eventually gave in because, contrary to what Rambo taught us, you don’t defeat the enemy on your own.

I don’t want to go on and on here, but I want to ask everyone who is reading this to take a moment right now to pray for the Christian leaders who have impacted your walk and are currently leading you. The percentage rates of divorce in the church are the same as those in secular society. The same is true for the number of men who admit to viewing porn on a regular basis. Even more troubling is the fact that the numbers are the same for ministers as well.

I feel like a big part of the problem is that many leaders feel like they don’t have anyone they can turn to when they are struggling; that if they are honest about the dark nights of their soul, they will be putting their ministry and livelihood at risk. And so they feel trapped, and they do nothing, and eventually we read about them in the paper or see them on the news. And Satan has won another victory. We need to continue to cultivate a culture and attitude within our churches and communities that it’s OK to struggle with things,but we have to be honest about it and WE HAVE TO SEEK HELP! James 5:16 says, “Therefore, confess your sins to each other, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.”

Many of you know that I can testify to the destructive nature of sexual sin, and I know all too well the need for more support in this area. Pray that those you know in the ministry will remain pure and seek to help others do so as well. Pray for me, that I can continue to submit my will to His every day, and not go back to who I was.

The church is the first place people struggling with hurts, habits and hang-ups should turn to; not the last. We have to model Christ in this: Accepting people right where they are, but loving them too much to let them stay there.



Josh Hill is a faithful husband to his wife and two beautiful girls and close friend.  He also is regional Worship Leader for Legacy Christian Church in Lee Summit, MO. If you want to you can catch up with him on Facebook.

Where Were You On 9/11?

•September 11, 2008 • 1 Comment

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                I was living in Manhattan, KS (the best city in Kansas) at the time and was late on my rent.  I had received my paycheck the day before from working the night shift at a local technology firm, so when I came home I jumped in my roommates car to go to the local Hy-Vee, cash the check, get a money order and other needed items for a bachelor.  My roommate loved hard rock and as I turned it on my ears were blasted out so I quickly turned the station to a local AM station.  Funny enough my mom had just introduced to talk radio because a person she was listing to she thought was a little out there but as I began to listen I became hooked. Right before I arrived at the store the report came over the radio “a small plane or something is reported to have hit the WTC towers causing a fire….”  I jumped out, went inside, picked up the items I needed and on the way out I casually asked check out person if they had heard the news and they said that they heard something but it didn’t really matter to them.  I jumped back into the car and listened intently to the news and the confusion of why the tower was burning.  As I returned to my complex the radio just started to spit out the news of a possible attack.  I ran up to our unit and quickly turned on the T.V., as I found a station that was covering the event just in time to witness the 2nd plane barrel into the second tower.  I immediately screamed (yes, screamed) at my roommates 9who were dead asleep) to join me in our living room.  My mind racing I didn’t know what to do or where to go but remember feeling physically sick about the potential loss of life.  I called my ex-girlfriend to check on her dad worked in that WTC complex, I wasn’t able to get through and to this day I do not know why.  I remember having some extremely deep discussions and disagreements about my role as a citizen and our reaction as a nation after 9/11.  I also will never forget the solidarity that resulted everywhere that I went for the next couple of months. 

Truly, there is so much more detail that I could not include, you would be here forever, but I ‘m curious with today being the seventh anniversary of these events, and constant news coverage and documentaries going on, my memories of where I was and my initial thoughts have come flooding back to me.

Can you remember where you were when you first heard about these events? What were your initial thoughts and reactions?