Monday, September 27, 2010

Time out

I am going to take a break this week...I am un-well and need to rest.

I would appreciate your prayers.

Lisa

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Deposed Royalty

The sermon today highlighted the visit our pastor had in the country of Rwanda, and after hearing some of the stories of that country after the horrid genocide and some of the stories of the healing going on throughout that small country, I am revisiting this particular post from last year were I wrote on  the dichotomy of humanity...the greatness and vileness as pointed out by Blase Pascal.
It is dangerous to explain too clearly to man how like he is to the animals without pointing out his greatness. It is also dangerous to make too much of his greatness without his vileness. It is still more dangerous to leave him in ignorance of both, but it is most valuable to represent both to him. Man must not be allowed to believe that he is equal either to animals or to angels, nor to be unaware of either, but he must know both. (Pensee’s 121/418)

There is an amazing greatness in humanity, yet there is also an utter depravity. We so clearly have the capacity for astounding creativity; in the arts—musical and visual; painting and sculpture; don’t forget the sciences—Physics and Biology, and of course Philosophy…all in all the level of our inventiveness is astounding.

Yet the study of history shows over the millennial the horrid level of depravity we have inflicted on our fellow man. The wars and slavery, subjugation and tyranny; the slaughter of innocents and genocide…horrid massacres of fellow human beings for no other reason that they did not fit the majority’s measure of worth.

Societies have created systems of worship based on gods that are merely mega-humanity in an effort to give the general populace something to hold to…but to no avail. Only a God that is above; infinite yet personal can be the source of absolutes mankind can seek for true salvation.

Frances Schaeffer writes of the strength of the Christian world view this way:

This strength rested on God’s being an infinite-personal God and his speaking in the Old Testament, in the life and teaching of Jesus Christ…He had spoken in ways people could understand, Thus the Christians not only had knowledge about the universe and mankind the people cannot find out by themselves, but they had absolute, universal values by which to live...(p. 22)


The Apostle Paul points out in Romans 1:20 that God’s invisible attributes are clearly seen…But instead we make images of the creation and worship them rather than giving worship to the Creator. In today’s world we turn the nurture given to children by their parents into nothing more than behavior necessary for survival.

And on the other end of the spectrum, we take the Judeo/Christian ideals this country was founded on and change them into a evolutionary change pointing to man as the measure of all things…humanity is passing up into a higher level of existence.

Yet in any thorough study of history it is plain to see the depravity of ages gone by is mirrored in daily life of the 21st century. There has merely been a change in the technology. Man is as fallen today as he was during the Roman Empire.

Yet what of the horror we inflict upon each other…And what of the sacrifices and blessings given to some? How do we reconcile these differences?

As Blase Pascal writes:

What sort of freak then is man? How novel, how monstrous, how chaotic, how paradoxical, how prodigious! Judge of all things, feeble earthworm, repository of truth, sink of doubt and error, glory and refuse of the universe! (Pensee’s 131/434)

Can we see the imago Dei in people? The very image and likeness of God in the humanity around us…but also can we recognize the fallen-ness in ourselves and others. Were it not for the grace given to us by God for our salvation…this is what we are called to give to one another

Grace.

But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you. (Matthew 6:44)

Therefore, however you want people to treat you, so treat them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. (Matthew 7:12)

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God. (Ephesians 2:8)




Peter Kreeft(1993) Christianity for Modern Pagans: Pascal’s Pensees. San Francisco, CA: Ignatius Press

Frances Schaeffer (1976) How Should We Then Live. Old Tappan, NJ: Fleming H. Revell Company.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

What is Prayer?

What is prayer?

My old Webster’s New World Dictionary dated 1957, defines it this way; “To implore; beseech; entreat… An earnest request; entreaty; supplication…humble entreaty addressed to God.”

When I was growing up we always said stuff that I was told was prayer; for example we always said the “Lord’s Prayer” during the service. But most of the time we listened to someone read words from a paper supposedly for me and for everyone in the congregation…my mind would wander and I’d sneak peeks at what my brother was doing, as I fidgeted on the other side of mom.

As I got older, I knew that I should pray to God for myself and for others. But the hardest thing for me to do was to string more than 10 minutes together to God…I’d lie in the bed, try to pray and generally fall asleep.

But as I studied scripture, something began to happen; I began to care more and more for others and for God. It began to be not an obligation or chore; but a joy, a love, and a privilege to pray. I knew that the people that I am asked to pray for (or are just on “my list”) may not be able to ask God for help “right now”; so they need me to intercede for them. And I know the comfort that it brings me to know someone is praying for me if I ask.

But maybe I should explain my “prayer time”…yes, I do what may be considered “formal” prayers…but for the most part, it is a fairly one way conversation with God. I have come to the place of having confidence in being in God’s presence. I have trust that he hears me, and is “here” when I am praying. So I simply talk to him; knowing he won’t get tired of listening to me (um…he’s the only one!) as I ask for help, listen to my gripes, try to figure out my homework, and pour out my pain or sorrows. Then when I begin to “lift up” the needs of those who have problems, pain, sickness; something begins to change in me—my own needs aren’t so pressing anymore. And even if my needs seem unresolved; I cry out for God to have mercy on all of us trying to keep to his path in this fallen world. The more time I spend in God’s presence, shows to me my own sinfulness…I pass beyond my asking for help to humility that the Creator of the Universe is listening to me…that is where I can only ask for mercy.

That is where the insights are. That is where God meets me, as I fall at his feet in humility.

And that is where my listening begins. This is the joy of prayer, that if I am at the bottom of a muddy pit, I reach up my hand to God in faith; I feel him grasp my hand to pull me out…that is when I turn and reach back to those I know are still in the pit; to help pull them out.

That is what it means to me to pray…for my needs and for the needs of others.

O Lord, thou hast searched me and known me. Thou dost know when I sit down and when I rise up; Thou dost understand my thought from afar. Thou dost scrutinize my path and my lying down, and art intimately acquainted with all my ways. Even before there is a word on my tongue, behold, O Lord, Thou dost know it all. Thou hast enclosed me behind and before, and laid thy hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is too high, I cannot attain to it. (Psalm 139:1-6)

But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees in secret will repay you. And when you are praying do not use meaningless repetition, as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. There fore do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need, before you ask Him. ( Matthew 6:6-8)