“And it came to pass, that as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, one of His disciples said unto Him, Lord teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.” Luke 11:1
If you’re anything like me, you’ve known the Lord’s prayer from childhood. It is perhaps the best known prayer among Christians, as it is simple and comforting. In fact it is so familiar, there may even be times when you find yourself saying those beautiful words almost “casually” … only half thinking of what they mean.
Again, I’m speaking from personal experience. However, there was a point in my life when I came face to face with the deep theology and power in those words spoken by Jesus on the Mount of Beatitudes. In the next few blogs I would like to just stay with those words and allow you time to soak in their depth. Are you ready? Let us begin.
Jesus said: “When ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do; for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not therefore like unto them; for your Father knoweth what ye have need of, before ye ask Him. After this manner therefore, pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy Name.” Matthew 6:7-9
Our Father which art in heaven…
I’m writing this in September of 2017 and so far this month there have been four major hurricanes,… three of which have wreaked havoc upon the United States of America. Because of our advanced technology we have been able to sit in our comfortable homes and watch satellite images of a whirlwind so large that it encompassed the entire state of Florida in its approach. We cried and prayed for all those in its path as we watched in disbelief. Yet, this whirlwind does not even come close to displaying the magnificent, powerful transcendency of God in heaven…who is also our Father. The word Jesus used was Abba,… our Daddy.
Hallowed be thy name…
We speak this next phrase in our western culture, not realizing the privilege of approaching Him as Daddy. The Hebrews of Jesus’ day (and throughout the Old Testament) were in such awe and fear of our transcendent Creator, that they never, NEVER spoke His Name. They referred to YHWH as Ha Shem, “the Name.” Yet amazingly, with these words Jesus opened for us the portal of relationship without lessening the holiness of His Father’s Name.
Dear Friends, as you meditate on these two verses in the days ahead, please pause also to embrace another time when God Himself used the word hallowed:
“For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day. Wherefore, the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.” Exodus 20:11
Greetings Dear Friends,
As I write this today, the air has turned a tad crisp and the trees are definitely starting to change colors. In my neighborhood the sounds of school buses depositing their treasured passengers back home have now replaced the distinct sounds of summer. Gratefully, I can rejoice in the fact that my windows can be open and the curtains billowing in the fall breeze. As thankful as I am for air conditioning in the heat, I can honestly say that I’m loving this!
I’ve been thinking a lot about the things I love… and about my love for the Lord.
Since writing the last blog, I’ve become so aware of the state of my soul and have asked myself:
“You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches … As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in His love. John 15:3-10
But Lord, what about my first love? How do I know it’s still first?
The following story called “The Little Fish” from the Indian Jesuit, Anthony de Mello, is a little parable about the awareness of God’s abiding love:
“Excuse me”, said an ocean fish. “You are older than I, so can you tell me where to find
this thing they call the ocean?’
“The ocean,” said the older fish “is the thing you are in now.”
“Oh, this? But this is water. What I’m seeking is the ocean,” said the disappointed fish as he swam away to search elsewhere.
“Stop searching, little fish, says de Mello.
“There isn’t anything to look for. All you have to do is look.”
“These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. This is my commandment that you love one another as I have loved you” John 15:11-12.
Thank You, Lord Jesus. Thank You.
“This is love…” 2 John 6
For only God’s reasons, I have had a fascination these last months with John, the beloved disciple of Jesus Christ. It is believed that he was but a teenager when the Lord called him and his older brother James, (Sons of Thunder) to follow Him. They were fishermen by trade and worked closely…perhaps business partners, perhaps even cousins …with the brothers, Peter and Andrew.
I’ve caught glimpses in the Gospels of John’s growth during his years with Jesus, especially as seen in the Book he penned. I’ve pondered how he must have become a man overnight at Calvary, and how he received Mary into his home and care. I’ve been fascinated by the challenges he must have faced as Peter’s side-kick through the first chapters of Acts. Ah yes, and my heart has been warmed and warned by the admonishments of his three pastoral letters.
Now this month, my focus has turned to John as the last surviving apostle of Jesus’ original twelve. Tradition has it that this bishop and overseer of the church at Ephesus, had been brutally manhandled and then exiled with a life sentence of hard labor on Patmos. Yet this John, now an old man, was in worship on the Lord’s day.
I remember my reaction as I began reading Revelation, now totally immersed in the life and heart of this man. I remember literally sitting up straighter as I “connected the dots” that John’s own church at Ephesus was the first one being addressed in the second chapter of Revelation.
I tried to picture John on his face before the Lord. I tried to picture what it might have felt like to have the right Hand of God placed on him. Then I tried to picture John with a stylus in his shaking hands writing these words being dictated by “…One like the Son of Man, clothed with a long garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band…” (Revelation 1:13).
“To the angel of the church of EPHESUS write…I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and found them liars. And you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake, and you have not become weary” (Revelation 2:2-3).
But then I tried to picture John writing, “Nevertheless, I have this against you, that you have left your first love” (Revelation 2:4).
Now my hands are shaking. There are many insights concerning the seven churches in Revelation. Yet they were seven actual churches in Asia at the time. The church at Ephesus was John’s church.
This was John, the one who spoke of himself as the disciple Jesus loved and as the one “…leaning on Jesus’ bosom…” at the last supper (John 13:23)! This church was John’s responsibility, and these were his people whom he had addressed as “dear friends” and “little children.” This was John on Patmos, having faced death for Jesus!! Yet, he was hearing the word from the Lord, “nevertheless...”
I was undone.
What about my first love? What about those I’m responsible for, those I’m influencing? What about you, dear readers? What about your first love?
Summer is drawing to a close. Take some time to just stop, repent if necessary, and ask the Lord to re-ignite the flame of your first love.
Remember…“We love Him because He first loved us.” 1 John 4:19
Tradition has it that John ultimately was released from Patmos and returned to his flock at Ephesus. I feel certain he returned having regained the passion of his first love. How about you?
“… Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” Matthew 6:28-29
It’s August and the summer days are waning. If you’re anything like me, you are still hanging onto the season…feasting your eyes (when you can) on the beautiful lush landscapes…and still enjoying the long daylight hours. As I’m writing this I’m sitting outside and also smiling at the sounds of neighborhood children playing a crazy game of kickball next door. There are a couple squirrels running along the back fence and a brazen little rabbit, is poised in the yard, taunting my golden retriever. The birds are chirping their evening melody and I’m still noticing the faint aroma of someone’s charcoal grill…and evening meal, nearby.
My senses are taking in all the peace and it becomes a prayer.
Some have called this a prayer of consideration: one in which we purposefully raise our minds and hearts to God, while still steeped in the concrete circumstances of our world. It’s a prayer of awareness, acknowledging what we are experiencing and sharing it with our God, Who is within and around us.
Jesus did this a lot as He used His awareness for object lessons in His teaching. Here He contrasts the magnificent beauty of field lilies, wild flowers much akin to our colorful anemones…with our needless worry over daily provision.
What are you seeing, hearing, smelling, feeling right now? How about earlier today or during your morning run or walk…or even your drive into work?
I have a dear friend who worships many mornings at the magnificent sunrises she experiences on her way to the office. She then snaps phone photos of them. What a wonderful reminder later, during a low point in her day, as she’s able to once again gaze upon the images she had captured that morning.
What simple ways can you incorporate prayers of consideration into the concrete circumstances of your world? They’re all around you.
“Consider the lilies…”
Summer, 2017 is well on its way and so are the picnics, backyard barbeques and … if you are so blessed, pool parties. On my neighborhood walks it’s not unusual to catch the wonderful whiff of hamburgers grilling and the sounds of love and laughter in the air. It’s so inviting … yes, and also comforting to feel the sense of welcoming and safety these represent.
There’s something else about these summer gatherings that is now unique in our culture. They seem relaxed and unhurried. Hurry, a norm in most of our lives now, … has been defined by Eugene Peterson as an act of violence against time. Wow! Just sit and ponder that one for awhile!
Consequently, when we create safe, open, unhurried spaces where friends (or strangers) can enter and experience the welcoming Spirit of Jesus Christ, ... we are practicing hospitality.
When we can sit with another, face to face, in an unhurried fashion, we are offering the gift of presence.
When we are willing to offer a cold drink and simply relax and listen to a friend who needs to process, we are acting as Christ to him or her.
This summer try welcoming guests with all of your heart, lingering at the door when they leave until they pull out of the driveway, and then spending a few extra minutes praying for them before you move on. Who knows, you may have “…unwittingly entertained angels.” (Hebrews 13:2)
‘Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.”
I'm a spiritual Director, speaker, and teacher with a sincere desire to share all that the Lord has taught me. It is my passion to help you create a “sacred space” of deeper intimacy with Jesus.
Resources for Going Deeper
Consider the Lilies
1. "Busy Lives & Restless Souls" by Becky Eldredge
1. "Sensible Shoes"
2. "Two Steps Forward-A Story of Persevering in Hope"
3. "Barefoot - A Story of Surrendering to God"
All titles by Sharon Garlough Brown
What Would Come Out if Someone Bumps Into You?
1. "The Way of Discernment: Spiritual Practices for Decision Making" by Elizabeth Liebert
What is Your Sacred Pathway?
1. "Sacred Pathways, Discover Your Soul's Path to God" by Gary Thomas
Spring Training...have you Started?
1. "The Good and Beautiful God, Falling in Love with the God Jesus Knows" by James Bryan Smith
Hurry and Slow Down
1. "Spiritual Disciplines Handbook" by Adele Ahlberg Calhoun
2. "Answering God" by Eugene Peterson
3. "Soul Keeping: Caring For The Most Important Part of You"
by John Ortberg
STOP Before You Start Your Journey
1. "Sabbath" by Dan Allender
2. "Spiritual Disciplines Handbook" by Adele Ahlberg Calhoun
3. "Soul Feast" by Marjorie Thompson