A Prayer for Ash Wednesday

A Prayer for Ash Wednesday

O Lord, who hast mercy upon all, take away from me my sins, and mercifully kindle in me the fire of thy Holy Spirit. Take away from me the heart of stone, and give me a heart of flesh, a heart to love and adore Thee, a heart to delight in Thee, to follow and enjoy Thee, for Christ’s sake, Amen St. Ambrose of Milan (AD...
Peace From The Middle East

Peace From The Middle East

Carl Medearis is one of the foremost peacemakers of today as well as the author of two awesome books that greatly influenced my life (Speaking of Jesus: The Art of Not-Evangelism and Muslims, Christians, and Jesus: Gaining Understanding and Building Relationships). In the below video, Carl talks about what it means to bring peace to the Middle East by focusing on the Peacemaker Himself. Carl Medearis will be teaching alongside Rick Love at the online Modern Middle East Studies program through William Jessup University, starting in March. Carl Medearis will be teaching about Jesus in the Muslim Context, and Rick Love will be teaching a course on Muslim-Christian-Jewish Relations. The program is online and open to students anywhere in the...
Celebrating Christmas, the Invasion of History by the Creator God

Celebrating Christmas, the Invasion of History by the Creator God

Today we are celebrating Christmas, the invasion of human history by the Creator of Heaven and Earth. Over this last month we have celebrated the Advent – the time in which the church celebrated both the birth of Jesus the Christ in his First Advent, and the anticipation of the return of Christ the King in his Second Advent.  It is celebrating a truth about God, the revelation of God in Christ whereby all of creation might be reconciled to God.  That is a process in which we now participate, and the consummation of which we anticipate. In this double focus on past and future, Advent symbolizes the spiritual journey of individuals and a community of Jesus followers. We affirm that Christ has come, that He is present in the world today, and that He will come again. This acknowledgment provides a basis for Kingdom ethics, for holy living arising from a profound sense that we live “between the times” and are called to be faithful stewards of what is entrusted to us as God’s people. So, as the church celebrates God’s in-breaking into history in the Incarnation, and anticipates a future consummation to that history for which “all creation is groaning awaiting its redemption,” it also confesses its own responsibility as a people commissioned to “love the Lord your God with all your heart” and to “love your neighbor as yourself.” It is like Franciscan Father Richard Rohr once said: “We [believe] that the Incarnation was already the Redemption, because in Jesus’ birth God was already saying that it was good to be human, and God was on...
Love: An Advent Post

Love: An Advent Post

Love is interesting as a word because we use it so often (“I love this show, pizza, etc..”). It is also one of the most powerful things on the planet. Love is more powerful than fear, anger or revenge. There are tons of movies, shows, and songs sung about love. I would even say that most of the stories that have been passed down throughout the ages have deal with love, no matter what the culture or people group. Yet we still use the word loosely… Love Defined The dictionary defines love as an intense feeling of deep affection. a deep romantic or sexual attachment to someone. a great interest and pleasure in something. It is a word that can be both a noun and a verb. Or in different words, it is something that is both an emotion and a decision. An emotion as there are times when we have that intense feeling of affection; a decision because love is more than just emotions. When things get tough and relationships are hard, we don’t stop loving just because we lost an emotional feeling. There is a decision that keeps us going through the pain and rough parts of life. Joseph’s decision Speaking of decisions, have you ever thought about the decision Joseph had to make? Here was a man well liked by his community engaged to get married to the daughter of another well-known community member who had the reputation of following God. Then out of the blue his gal was found to be pregnant! At first everyone thought that he, Joseph, had slept with her. But instead...
Joy: An Advent Post

Joy: An Advent Post

In our series so far we have talked about Hope and Peace. Today we are going to talk about Joy, that emotion of pleasure and happiness. Because we live in a world full of darkness and pain, it is easy for our joy to be restricted and swashed.  Yet if our hope is in the promises of God and our peace is in knowing Jesus, then our joy should not be controlled by our circumstances but, instead, it should be based upon one thing and one thing only: That God Himself came down into human history and set loose the chains that bound us. That God Himself freed us from sin, evil, death and all darkness. We no longer have to live under the yoke of darkness, but can thrive under the light of God!!    Sorrow, no matter how painful it may be, should not take away our joy. As the Prophet Habakkuk said: Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.  –Habakkuk 3:17-18 Victory also should not control our joy. In Luke 10, when the 72 returned to Jesus after their mission to tell people about the Kingdom of God, it says they “returned in joy” because the demons submitted to them in Jesus’ name. Instead of rejoicing with them, Jesus replied: “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. I...
Peace: It’s Who You Know

Peace: It’s Who You Know

What do you think of when you think of peace? Miss USA saying they want world peace? Perhaps the absence of conflict? Google defines “peace” as: Freedom from disturbance; quiet and tranquility. Freedom from or the cessation of war or violence. Both definitions are ‘from’ something. We want “peace and quiet”; we want calmness…. Yet if we look at the Greek word for peace – εἰρήνη (pronounced: ā-rā’-nā ) – we finds a different meaning: a state of national tranquillity peace between individuals, i.e. harmony, concord security, safety, prosperity, felicity, The Hebrew word for peace, שָׁלוֹם or shalom, carries with it the same focus as the Greek word: completeness, soundness, welfare, peace completeness (in number) safety, soundness (in body) welfare, health, prosperity quiet, tranquillity, contentment friendship Peace, in other words, is not just the absence of conflict, but a state of being. There is tranquility and contentment in life; a sense that all is well. Prince of Peace Peace, as defined by the Bible, goes even deeper than just living. One of the names for God in the OT is “Yahweh Shalom” or God of Peace (Judges 6:24). This name was also given to Jesus: For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  (Isaiah 9:6) Peace, therefore, is less of an absence  of something (noise, problems, troubles, etc.) and more of ‘who you know’” You [God] will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. Trust...