Monkey Mind

Monkey Mind

Does your mind leap from one thing to another?

Has your mind made yet another leap since you started reading?

Have you often found yourself restless in prayer?

Not quite like going cold-turkey from a busy life, but not far off either!

 

Is it a triumph when concentration exceeds 20 seconds?

Do the thoughts of what needs doing cruise through your mind like an F1 racing car?

Or do they meandre like a cow slowly chewing the cud?

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Our Warring Madness – a poem for Good Friday

Our Warring Madness – a poem for Good Friday

God of grace and God of glory,
on your people pour your power;
crown your ancient church’s story,
bring its bud to glorious flower.
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage,
for the facing of this hour,
for the facing of this hour.

Lo! the hosts of evil round us
scorn the Christ, assail his ways!
From the fears that long have bound us
free our hearts to faith and praise.
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage,
for the living of these days,
for the living of these days.

Cure your children’s warring madness;
bend our pride to your control;
shame our wanton, selfish gladness,
rich in things and poor in soul.
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage,
lest we miss your kingdom’s goal,
lest we miss your kingdom’s goal.

Save us from weak resignation
to the evils we deplore;
let the gift of your salvation
be our glory evermore.
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage,
serving you whom we adore,
serving you whom we adore.

Written by Harry Fosdick in 1930 (italics mine)

I bought his book The Meaning of Prayer when I read that Eugene Peterson had been deeply influenced by him and his devotional/prayer life.

I’m posting this because we all need help!

The Preface states our perennial human problem:

“This little book is written in the hope that it may help to clarify a subject which is puzzling many minds.  Prayer is the soul of religion, and failure there is not a superficial lack for the supply of which the spiritual life leisurely can wait.  Failure in prayer is the loss of religion itself in its inward and dynamic aspect of fellowship with the Eternal.  Only a theoretical deity is left to any [person] who has ceased to commune with God, and a theoretical deity saves no [person] from sin and disheartenment and fills no life with a sense of divine commission.  Such vital consequences require a living God who actually deals with people.”

Baby Dedication

Baby Dedication

Our Father,

We lift baby Faye to you now,

In your presence and in the presence of your people.

 

We pray your divine ‘Yes’ over this beloved child’s life.

We pray for your purposes to be fulfilled in her life.

We pray, in anticipation of her responding to your love in Jesus Christ.

And dedicate her now in the hope of her baptism in years to come.

 

You have made her in your image.

She is a child of God.

And so she is loved from before the foundation of the world.

We pray on her behalf that in time and beyond, she will recognise her need of you, Father God.

 

We pray that you will not allow her to live cheaply towards you.

We entrust her to you Father.

That you would make her heart restless until it rests in you.

 

Enfold her family we pray Lord.

That they would be protected in Christ;

So that they would live for Christ.

Make theirs a happy home; a happy marriage; a happy family.

Teach them Father, to make Christ central in everything.

 

So, Faye,

I bless you in the Name of Holy Triune Name of God:

God the Father,

God the Son,

and God the Holy Spirit.

 

To live a fruitful, joyful, hopeful life in Christ.

Abide in Him little one,

Seek first His glorious Kingdom,

And everything in life shall be added unto you.

 

In the presence of God, and of his people in this church:

All God’s people said:  “Amen!”

Amen and amen.

babyfaye

This is my granddaughter Faye in 2013

How do you pray?

Martin Luther was taking a break from the Reformation (like you do) and decided to get his hair cut.  His barber asked him a question whilst he sat there under the blade, “How do you pray?”  – the great reformer wrote a forty page response to his ‘lowly’ questioner.

Here’s a snippet:

barber“A good clever barber must have his thoughts, mind and eyes concentrated upon his razor and the beard and not forget where he is in his stroke and shave.  If he keeps talking or looking around or thinking of something else (however important), he is likely to cut a man’s nose or mouth or throat.  So anything that is to be done well ought to occupy the whole man with all his faculties and members.  As the saying goes:  he who thinks of many things thinks of nothing and accomplishes no good.  How much more must prayer possess the heart exclusively and completely if it is to be good prayer?”

This is good advice to us in our short attention span age, distracted from one second to the next with all manner of things that will keep us from Christian basics, such as prayer.  Prayer that “occupies the whole [person]” is a challenge that people who call themselves “Christians” must surely wrestle with.  Multi-tasking is not a virtue, even though our culture tells us it is.

I know I need this advice.  I know we likely all do.

 

(Picture: ‘Barbier Deutschland “Hofampterspiel” for King Ladislas “Posthumus”, c. 1455)

Mission Impossible! a comment on the current escalation in Israel/Palestine violence

The following is a note by the President of Bethlehem Bible College, Jack Sara, on the current troubles engulfing the West Bank and Gaza.  It was published on the excellent ‘Come and See – a Christian web site from Nazareth‘.

This post is re-printed here with the personal permission of Jack, a faithful Christian, a fearless advocate of biblical truth and justice, a Palestinian, and a friend.  I will never forget our conversation over breakfast a couple of years ago!!

Mission Impossible! By Jack Sara

By: Bader Mansour

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Lord, behold a wretched sinner

Below is a wonderful hymn by Kim Fabricius.  
I can't sing very well, so if you'll join me in praying it I'll be delighted!

Lord, behold a wretched sinner

(Tune: Quem pastores laudavere)

 

Lord, behold a wretched sinner,

from the outer to the inner;

at repentance, rank beginner:

day and night my conscience cries.

 

Where begin?  My faults keep mounting;

when I start I can’t stop counting;

huge the sum, but Christ’s accounting

crosses out and nullifies.

 

Good I would but can’t achieve it,

bad I hate but can’t relieve it.

God for us?  I can’t believe it:

me the apple of his eye!

 

God forgives before petition;

grace alone shows our condition;

truth demands our self-suspicion:

like a snake the heart is sly.

 

While accusing scribes are hissing,

Christ portrays the Father kissing

cheek of child that he’s been missing:

Love forgives and sanctifies!

 

by Kim Fabricius found here.

Sideways CrossI took this photo outside All Saints Church in Torquay.

A Prayer

Merciful and loving God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, we open our hearts before you now.
We repent of our sins.
Our praise and worship make no sense unless we are repentant.
We confess to you faithful God, our sins in thought, word, deed and nature.
We confess freely and boldly.
We are a redeemed and sanctified people.
Not by our own righteousness. As if.
But by your righteousness, and the righteousness you give to us.
We are so blessed to be called your people.

For you do not treat us as our sins deserve.
Neither do you leave us wallowing in them
You lift us up. You crown us with love and compassion.
You declare us sons and daughters; heirs and co-heirs.
We acknowledge we have been bought at great cost.
We are not our own; but belong to you, in relationship with each other.

You have sent your Spirit. The Spirit of Jesus to live in us.
Not to be religious but righteous.
Not to live in piety but in power.
Not to be aloof but to be a saint.
Not to be sanctimonious but to be a servant.

Father God,

May your heart for us ever shape and heal our own hearts.
May we see you not as an insurance policy but as you are: Holy, Holy, Holy.
May we share your love in real, genuine ways.
May our evangelism be empowered and Spirit led, courageous and fearless, yet wise.
May our witness be authentic, natural, loving, sacrificial.
May our service to others be beautified.
May our giving cost us more than the cost of giving!

Meet with us Father God. Meet with us in a vast and complex world of fear and pain.
Meet us in our own pain and sickness. We pray for healing in the name of Jesus.
We also pray not just for healing, but encounter. An encounter with the resurrected Jesus.
And Father, if we fear that our prayers have not been answered, as is the repeated testimony of the Psalms and of your people through the ages;
Assure us that if in our praying, our prayers have not been answered, we have.
So we do not lose hope; we do not despair. You are the Rock on which we stand. You alone.
You – Jesus, are faithful and true. All sufficient in life and eternity. Bread for body and soul.
May we ever feed on you, Lamb of God. May we ever seek you, Pearl of great price.
Lord Jesus Christ, you do have mercy on us. Build your church through us we pray.

Amen

IMG_6748Steps in Torquay on my daily dog-walk.