504 Java Profile

504 Java Profile
Two of my favorite things

Friday, May 5, 2017

On the Full Armor of God: a Prayer

This week, in both my small group and in my men's Bible study, we talked about the armor of God. It occurred to me that I should put it on each day like the kevlar, taser, handcuffs, flashlight and weapon put on daily by the wonderful policemen and policewomen who watch our church.

I wondered what that prayer might look like, me talking to God about my spiritual wardrobe as I got dressed in the morning.

The Scripture is in Ephesians 6:10-18. This version is the J.B. Phillips NT:

In conclusion be strong—not in yourselves but in the Lord, in the power of his boundless resource. Put on God’s complete armour so that you can successfully resist all the devil’s methods of attack. For our fight is not against any physical enemy: it is against organizations and powers that are spiritual. We are up against the unseen power that controls this dark world, and spiritual agents from the very headquarters of evil. Therefore you must wear the whole armor of God that you may be able to resist evil in its day of power, and that even when you have fought to a standstill you may still stand your ground. Take your stand then with truth as your belt, righteousness your breastplate, the Gospel of peace firmly on your feet, salvation as your helmet and in your hand the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God. Above all be sure you take faith as your shield, for it can quench every burning missile the enemy hurls at you. Pray at all times with every kind of spiritual prayer, keeping alert and persistent as you pray for all Christ’s men and women.

Father, today let me put on the full armor that You said I need as a disciple. Let me chase after truth, even if it means I admit I am wrong. Remind me to pursue righteousness, seeing unrighteousness in the world for what it is and seeing the unrighteousness in me. Give me an acute awareness of who I was without Jesus and who I would be if He had not redeemed me. I pray that I won’t be enticed by shiny things that are not righteous, excellent or necessary.

God, today You will create opportunities for me to share Your story and how it has become my story. Please give me both awareness and courage to be ready to share.

Jesus, reassure me that I am loved, forgiven and transformed–the essence of my faith and my shield against feelings that I am not worthy, not holy, not secured in You.  Wrap my mind with the truth that I am eternally secure. Let me be intellectually satisfied that salvation is a mystery that cannot be explained or discredited by “experts” in science, literature, entertainment or even religion.

Help me know that I can cut through the deceit, distraction, darkness and despair of this fallen world because You have allowed me to wield the sword of Your Spirit. I can navigate today with the peace that passes all understanding, guarding my heart and my mind because I am filled with the Spirit. I can be salt and light in this world because I am a citizen of another world.

I pray with Paul that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I may fearlessly make known the mystery of the Gospel.  I pray I face this day clothed in the full armor that You have provided.


Tuesday, February 7, 2017

On Waiting and Moving

On Waiting and Moving

It seems a paradox that I want patience and movement at the same time. One of my favorite phrases is “let’s proceed with deliberate haste.” The tension between motion and stillness, patience and drive is held in that phrase and also (for me) in my faith.

The word combination “deliberate haste” may have come from Abraham Lincoln, when asked whether he favored the immediate emancipation of slaves, quoted the Latin motto festina lente: "make haste slowly." This expression, attributed to the emperor Augustus, found its English counterpart long before Lincoln: Ben Franklin, that proverb-meister, put "make haste slowly" into Poor Richard's Almanac in 1744. (credit to William Safire for the word play)

In the 1954 Supreme Court decision Brown v. Board of Education, which ordered school segregation to be abolished "with all deliberate speed." A decade later, Justice William Brennan commented on the progress following the decision: "There has been entirely too much deliberation and not enough speed. The time for mere 'deliberate speed' has run out."

Both Lincoln and Brennan used the phrase to describe a cultural situation that was unbearable.  The suggestion was that action needed to be taken, but the right action. Wisdom, but wisdom with forward motion.

Last Sunday, we sang a song in church and perhaps it was the passion of the worship team or perhaps the lyrics just penetrated my heart, but I was moved.  The song was “Spirit of the Living God” and some of it goes like this

Spirit of The Living God
Spirit of The Living God
We Only Want To Hear Your Voice
We’re Hanging On Every Word 

Because When You Speak, When You Move.
When You Do What Only You Can Do
It Changes Us, It Changes What We See And What We Seek

It changes us. It changes our priorities. It makes us uncomfortable with the status quo, similar to the desire to correct the injustice of slavery. Lincoln wanted to free those enslaved by humans. We want to see freedom for the spiritual captives.

Several years ago, Susan Ashton had a similar lyric

Oh but you move me
You give me courage I didn't
Know I had
You move me on
I can't go with you
And stay where I am
So you move me on

So here is my confession.  I am driven to study. I don’t want to be unprepared when I preach or teach the word.  However, I am convicted that if I, as an introvert, see being with people as a distraction, pulling me away study and preparation time, I have missed the point of preaching. I cannot neglect the study of the Word, but I cannot neglect people either. One preacher said, “I have to be spending as much time with the living human documents as I am with the printed documents and the commentaries. They feed each other, both are central.”

Jesus seemed to get this. He was aware that he was experiencing His last night on earth, His last moments before intense suffering, and His last season as incarnate Messiah made flesh. Yet, in Gethsemane, He told the disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” In a few verses, the Passion began.

So I need to move with deliberate haste. I want to be with people, hear their hurts, see their pain, pray through their fears. But I also want to seek what God’s Word says about it, and dive into God’s presence to the point that I have to be where HE is working, have to be where HE is moving, have to use the Words HE has spoken to speak in the excitement of the moment with the congregation of Dunwoody Baptist Church, the amazing people to whom God has trusted me to minister.

I can't go with you
And stay where I am
So you move me on