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Saturday, January 31, 2009

Social Action War Rebellion Prayer

Take a look at some excerpts from the book I'm reading for the "Perspectives" class on prayer below. Prayer is something I've felt compelled by God over the last few years to make an important part of my life, but I often really struggle with understanding why I should pray and what I'm doing in it. God's been shedding light on the darkness in my understanding - some through this book.
"Too often, our petitionary prayers are feeble and irregular because they are addressed in the wrong way. We beat ourselves up for our weak wills, our insipid desires, our ineffective techniques and our wandering minds... I suggest that the problem lies in a misunderstanding of the nature of petitionary prayer. Our practice of prayer will never have the persistence of that widow until our outlook has her clarity.

What, then, is the nature of petitionary prayer? In essence, it is rebellion - rebellion against the status quo, the state of the world in its sin and fallenness. It is the absolute and undying refusal to accept as normal what is completely abnormal. It is the rejection of every agenda, every scheme, every opinion that clashes with the norms that God originally established. Our petitionary prayers are an expression of the unbridgeable chasm that separates Good from Evil, a declaration that Evil is not a variation on Good but its very opposite.

...resignation to what is abnormal contains a hidden, unrecognized assumption that God's power to change the world, to overcome Evil with Good, will not be actualized. "At all times," Jesus declared,"we should pray and not lose heart" (Luke 18:1)
- Adapted from "Prayer: Rebelling against the Status Quo," Christianity Today, Vol. 17, No. 6, November 2, 1979.

"In the book of revelation, the apostle John describes a vision God gave him of humankind's history.... The Lamb of God opens seven seals -- each affecting the history of the planet. by the end of chapter seven, all of heaven is singing and worshiping God, wondering what will happen next in human history. However, at the beginning of chapter eight, all fall silent. Seven angels with seven trumpets stand before God ready to announce the unfolding fate of the world, but they must wait until the eighth angel offers god incense which includes all the prayers of the saints -- prayers for justice and victory. Nothing can happen until the fragrance of these prayers rises before God.

Prayer is the most powerful form of social action because God responds directly to praying people...

I am not saying that prayer is all that is necessary to change the world. Many evangelical Christians have used prayer for too long as a substitute for action -- dumping back on God the responsibility for doing what He has already commanded us to do throughout the Bible. Yet neither is social action a substitute for prayer. there is still a profound air of mystery surrounding prayer and how God uses our praying to transform the world. "

- From "In God's Kingdom... Prayer is Social Action," World Vision, February-March, 1997
Does this speak to you? It does to me. I want to pray the way God desires and understand my role in rebelling against what's rebelling against God and humbly, boldly ask God to act and be willing to obey Him fully when He asks me to act.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Upside-down Allegience

At the perspectives class tonight (I wrote a little about what that is in my last post), the speaker talked about the Kingdom of God and how much this world is opposed to it and how odd it looks to this world (He mentioned some things from the Shane Claiborne book "Jesus for President" that I blogged about last spring while I was in Nepal).

Compared to the world of money, fame, power, violence, influence, pursuit of happiness and security, the Kingdom of God appears to be weak, worthless, insignificant, depressing, and insane. Take another look at the Sermon on the Mount in Mathew 5-7 if you're in doubt. But I think a lot of us are in doubt, because we aren't, and we don't see many people truly living their lives only in allegience to the Kingdom of God. But as we turn to the Kingdom of God, we find Jesus to be the most beautiful, powerful, awe-inspiring, glorious, yet humble, generous, self-sacrificing, LOVING King. We are given way more than we give up when we give ourselves to this kingdom. But if I'm not willing to give up the kingdom of the world and what it's worth for me, to the same extent I won't participate in the glory of the Kingdom of God, and I won't be the joyful ambassador of that Kingdom to the foreign kingdom of the world that I live in. It's exciting and scary stuff.

Can I be okay with giving up the money I've worked for because I don't believe it's what can protect me, better my reputation, give me security, or provide for my family, and I want to bless another (maybe even someone who wouldn't handle it as well as I would).

Can I be okay with seeing my country invaded and not fighting back because I know my King is my Protector and He wants my "enemies" to see His character through me.

Can I be okay with giving up my life for another when an "enemy" is coming to steal, kill, or destroy. Rather than using violence to fight, can I sacrifice myself in love, entrusting my life, and theirs to my King, while believing my King may be in the process of bringing my "enemy" into His Kingdom?

Can I be okay with being considered insignificant because I've chosen to truly give up my life to serve the lowest in the world - even those who will have no appreciation for me - because I know my Father and King loves them, and He's put His love in me.

Can I be more than okay with this life, but rejoice in serving my king through suffering?

My King is inviting me and you to live in His Kingdom and my King is offering to transform us into those who love what His Kingdom is about.

Jesus, You are beautiful. Jesus, you are my only King. Jesus, You are my most humble Servant. I am Yours and I am frail and untrustworthy. Jesus, you are our slaughtered Lamb King and only You can fill me with Your desires. I LOVE you, Jesus!

Where are you at in relation to this Kingdom, friends

Monday, January 19, 2009


Well the new internship semester started last week. We've got 5 new interns and none of the old interns left, so it feels pretty big. But I think it's going to be really good. God's already been doing some sweet stuff in the lives of the new people to show them He's trustworthy.

And speaking of God's trustworthyness (Firefox spellcheck doesn't think that's a word, by the way...), that's what Jodi and I are both really wanting to learn about this year. Jodi's parents asked us to think of a verse that we'd like them to pray for us, and both of us independently immediately thought of Isaiah 26:3
You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You , Because he trusts in You. (NKJV)

You keep completely safe the people who maintain their faith, for they trust in you.(NET)

I believe that in my head. There is perfect peace when I'm totally living out trust and faith in God. But, I haven't experienced that fully and while I believe it's possible and what God wants, I want to know from experience that I am kept in perfect peace and perfectly safe even when things seem totally out of control and unsafe - even deadly. So I'm not sure how God wants to bring that about, but we're expecting to learn some more about that this year.

This semester, we're also involved in the Perspectives on the World Christian Movement classes. They're being held at a local church. If you haven't heard about it, click the link. So far, it's been really cool. It's pretty intense with lots of reading, but I'm hoping to be able to put a lot into it and let God shape me and direct Jodi and I if He wants to give more specific direction for our future through this class.

So... that's kinda what we're up to these days. God has been giving us encouragement lately, too. He is so loving and is too gentle and kind with us.