Showing posts from February, 2013

Family Faith Statements - John Vest

One of my colleagues and friends in youth ministry, John Vest, wrote this great blog post about the importance of parents in faith development in the lives of teens.  There is no greater influence on faith and faith development than parents.  John writes, "Faith formation and spiritual development must happen at home. It’s not even a matter of making sure that these things are reinforced at home—family homes (especially in our post-Christendom world) must become the primary locus of faith formation." Take a moment to read the entire post here . John Vest is an associate pastor at Fourth Presbyterian Church, Chicago, where he is doing amazing work with teens and their families.

Sermon by Dr. Tom Long - "Telling Time"

Take 20 minutes from your day to watch and listen to this masterful sermon by Dr. Thomas G. Long at Second Presbyterian Church, Indianapolis on Sunday, February 24. Dr. Long is an author, teacher, and preacher who currently is the Bandy Professor of Preaching at Candler School of Theology on the campus of Emory University. You will not be disappointed. "Telling Time" - Dr. Thomas G. Long

Lenten Prayer

"Lord Jesus Christ, you refused" A: Lord Jesus Christ,     you refused to turn stones into bread.     Save us from using our power,     however little,     to satisfy the demands of selfishness     in the face of the needs of others. B: Lord Jesus Christ,     you refused to leap from the temple top.     Save us from displaying our skills,     however modest,     to win instant popularity     in the face of nobler calls on our abilities. C: Lord Jesus Christ,     you refused to bend the knee to a false god.     Save us from offering our devotion,     however weak,     to cheap or easy religion     in the face of the harder path     on which you bid us to follow you. D: Saviour of the World,     you saw Satan masquerading as an angel of light     and shunned him.     Give us wisdom     to discern behind each subtle temptation     the ploy of the prince of darkness;     and in the face of all that is hellishly attractive,     help us to choose the

40 Days - Tempted in the Desert, part three

The final word the tempter offers to Jesus in the desert is one of authority, power, allegiance, and worship.  In Matthew we read, "Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendour; and he said to him, 'All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me'" (Matthew 4:8-9).  The slanderer offers the kingdoms of the earth to the Lord of all creation.  The backbiter presents temporal satisfaction to the sovereign ruler of time.  All of this in exchange for a promise to worship that which cannot and will not last. This is the way of the accuser attempting to transform that which is a part of the whole into an ultimate concern in exchange for our allegiance.  And often we jump at the chance to receive the glory, the reward, the notoriety that comes along with receiving "the kingdoms of the world." However, there is something more. In response to the temptation, Jesus says, &quo

40 Days - Tempted in the Desert, part two

Picking up the story of Jesus' journey in the desert as it is found in both Matthew and Luke, Jesus was tempted by the "accuser/adversary" following his forty day fast.  The first temptation hit Jesus in stomach where the pangs of hunger were the most fierce.  Jesus quoted the scrolls to speak the truth of God's promised provision (click here for the full post ). Not leaving well enough alone, the "backbiter" once again speaks a word of temptation into Jesus' ear saying to him, "If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written, 'He will command his angels concerning you',    and 'On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.' " The "slanderer" quotes from Psalm 91 in order to tempt the faith of Jesus. The words of the songbook of Israel twisted in order to serve the needs and purposes of the one who speaks them. That is the way the accuser works t

40 Days - Tempted in the Desert, part one

Early in both the Gospel of Matthew and the Gospel of Luke the authors share a strange and wonderful story of wandering, fasting, and temptation from the life of Jesus (the vignette also appears in a much shorter form in the Gospel of Mark).  We are told that immediately following his baptism in the Jordan River by John the Baptist, Jesus is led into the wilderness or desert where he fasted for forty days (in the Bible the number forty means "a long time" - consider the forty days and nights of rain, the forty days in the ark, and the forty years in the desert). Following this fast, Jesus was "tempted by the devil."  The word that is translated devil here is the Greek word "diabolos" which also means "the accuser, the slanderer, the backbiter." In the story, Jesus is tempted by the accuser three times with three distinct temptations.  Each one was targeted at a basic human need or desire.  Throughout the next several days we will take a look

Prayer for Ash Wednesday

Prayer for Ash Wednesday: Before you, Jesus Christ, we admit how and where we have underestimated our influence, letting our words or silences hurt, abusing trust, betraying confidences. Lord, have mercy; Christ, have mercy. We admit how and where we have made a show of our religion, attracting more attention to us, and less to you. Lord, have mercy; Christ, have mercy. We admit to where in our lives a vague interest has become a dangerous passion, and we are not sure what to do or whether we are still in control. Lord, have mercy; Christ, have mercy. Lord Jesus Christ, if we have looked or longed for an easier gospel, a lighter cross, a less demanding savior, the turn our eyes and avert our longing from what we want to choose to the one who has chosen us. Forgive our unfaithfulness, and, for our better living, give us not the remedy we desire tomorrow, but the grace you offer today. We ask this for your love's sake. Amen -- Taken from Stages on the Way , Wild G

Lent - A Spiritual Journey

If you haven't ever done so, take a look at the church's liturgical calendar.  This calendar is structured to bring note and attention to the different seasons and celebrations of the life of the church.  The liturgical calendar contains seasons of celebration, seasons of repentance, seasons of anticipation, seasons of preparation, seasons of remembrance, and seasons of ordinary life.  It is beautiful in the way in which it reflects a life journey each and every calendar year.  Not only is this a helpful tool as we consider the life of the church but also for our own spiritual journey and our life together as the Body of Christ (click on the calendar to the right for a larger version of the year). About the church year, the Directory of Worship for the Presbyterian Church USA reads, "God has provided a rhythm of seasons which orders life and influences the church’s worship. (Cf. W-1.3013) God’s work of redemption in Jesus Christ offers the Church a central pattern

Reclaiming Words - "Consistency"

Consistency It isn't the most exciting or dramatic concept in the English language.  In fact, there are some instances when the word is used as a backhanded complement.  When a commentator says that an athlete is consistent, it can mean the individual doesn't really have any traits or qualities that stand out.  When a coworker praises someone for their consistency, it sometimes means that the best thing that can be said about them is that they show up to work every day. In Webster's Dictionary the entry for consistency reads... consistency  noun 1 a :  archaic : condition of adhering together : firmness of material substance 3 a : agreement or harmony of parts or features to one another or a whole : correspondence; specifically : ability to be asserted together without contradiction    b : harmony of conduct or practice with profession I would like to go on record saying that I desire consistency, and it is something I long to emulate. Let me be clear, I am no