Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Disciple's Prayer: Hallowed Be Thy Name

Perdomo Lot 23 Maduro Robusto

I love how the first thing Jesus does after greeting the Father is to praise His name. This is one of those interesting little paradoxes of scripture that could blow one's mind. Here is God the Son praising God the Father. They are indeed one person but separate entities. So is God in a sense praising Himself? Well He certainly has earned that honor, you think?

This is interesting though. We tend to think of prayer as asking for things. We ask for help, forgiveness, blessings - all kinds of stuff. But look at what Jesus does; He starts off by praising the Father. If you've ever done this in any sort of depth, the concerns of earth sort of disappear when you consider the Greatness of the Almighty. It's like that old Keith Green song "...and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of Your Glory and Grace."

When we, when I praise the Father, what I came to Him to ask about doesn't really seem that important. The stuff of earth is put in perspective with those simple words "Hallowed Be Thy Name."

What does "Hallowed" mean? Webster's Dictionary defines it as "Holy, Consecrated, Sacred and Revered". The name of God the Father is all of these things.

The Name of the Father is so important, He went so far as to say "Thou shalt not take the Name of the Lord thy God in vain." This is the first of the ten commandments given to Moses in Exodus. We are not to speak the Name of the Father flippantly. The Hebrews went so far as to not even write the name of God. They addressed Him by His character rather than directly.

If we are not to speak the name of God flippantly, it would make sense then that we shouldn't approach His Throne through prayer in a flippant manner. When one addresses a king, all manner of respect is paid. How much more should we honor the King of kings?

To summarize, I think the nature of our prayer life could change dramatically for the better if we reflected fully on the ramifications "Hallowed Be Thy Name".

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Disciple's Prayer: Our Father, who art in heaven

Orlik Gold Sliced in a sandblasted Peterson 313.

This is the first part of The Disciple's prayer. This study will be much more informal than some of the other teachings on the subject. I don't have all the knowledge and expertise - and certainly lack the knowledge of Greek - that people like John MacArthur have. But hopefully it will be well enough written to be understood.

We typically treat prayer like a written letter. I don't know why as it is an open conversation with the Almighty, but we see Jesus treating it in a similar fashion. "Our Father, who art in heaven" is the greeting.

Notice Jesus doesn't use a lot of flowery language to greet the recipient of the prayer. "Oh infinite and almighty God, Creator of the Universe" finds no place in Jesus' model prayer. Now this description of God is entirely accurate, but I'm sure He finds it wholly unimpressive. This type of prayer, with a lot of flowery speech and big words, is not designed to bring glory to the Father. It is to impress the people around the one uttering the nonsense.

To me, this type of greeting attempts to place us as equals with God. Lucifer tried that one time, it did not end well for him. Addressing God as "Daddy" puts is in humble submission to Him. It acknowledges his Lordship, His wonder, His infinite power. Let's face it, when we were kids, daddy could do anything. We never had any doubt daddy could fix something, could take care of that bully (boy I remember my daddy taking care of a bully one time! That was awesome!). "Daddy" puts us into submission, and we love it.

I think God prefers to be addressed as "Father." As a matter of fact, He uses that term to refer to Himself throughout the entire Bible, all the way from the table of contents to the maps! He refers to His followers as His children. He disciplines his followers as one would a child. He instructs them, He rewards them.

It has been said the Greek word Jesus used is "Abba", which literally translates to "Daddy". This term is so intimate and so innocent we rarely hear adults use it in reference to their earthly fathers. We do hear small children use it all the time, mine do.

God the Father desperately desires an intimate relationship with US. Can you believe it? We little pukes who try and pretend He doesn't exist, we little pukes who place our wisdom above his and make up fairy tales regarding the Creation. Yet, God says "Behold I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in and dine with him, and he with Me." Throughout the Bible and history, God the Father has pursued a relationship with His fallen and ungrateful Creation.

God is the model Father. "But my father was abusive. Why would I want any sort of relationship with God if He is like a Father?" God is the MODEL Father, not the imitation of a Father. One fine example of the type of Father God is, is the story of the Prodigal Son. This father had the worst type of son one could imagine. This little punk asked for his inheritance up front. "Dad, I wish you were dead. Give me what is coming to me and I'm taking off." Dad obliged. Junior went off and blew all his money and ended up feeding one of the most loathsome animals to the Jews - pigs. He even had to steal food from the swine. He finally decided to return home with his hat in his hands and ask for a servant's position. Meanwhile, dad has been waiting on the front porch the entire time waiting for Junior to come home. When Junior arrived, dad threw a party.

Dad had every right to tell Junior "You are not welcome here. You are no longer my son, go back to wherever it is you came from." Dad didn't do that, dad welcomed Junior and had the whole village show up and share in his joy.

This is one example of how our Father God looks at us. "But God punishes us!". Yes, God allows us to suffer the consequences of our stupid decisions. Yes, Father God will put an end to all evil. Don't you think He's been awfully patient with us in the mean time? Maybe now would be a good time to head back to the Father's house and ask for a servant's position.

Jesus always referred to God the Father as simply "Father". The only time in Scripture when He didn't is when He was on the cross dying. When Jesus took that punishment for us, He took on every sin you and I have ever or will ever commit. Sin separates us from God. Jesus the Son was profoundly separated from His Father when he was hanging on that cursed cross.

This is the only time in Scripture that Jesus began His prayer "My God!" How about that? Isn't that how we usually begin our prayers? "Oh God!" "My God!"

And finally "Who art in heaven". Our Heavenly Father is of course not of this world. He dwells here in spirit, but He is not the ruler of this world. Satan is. God the Son will return some day, God the Father is creating a new heaven and a new earth for His children once this one is destroyed. How is that for a paradox?

"Our Father, who art in heaven"

"Daddy, who lives in a perfect place"

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Desciple's Prayer

(Milan's "Triple Crown" in a Peterson B11 Claddagh)

I am still letting this idea ferment but am getting close to opening the barrel. Basically I need to compile the information I have redistributed from other sources.

Here is the text of the Lord's Prayer. Now, quite a few teachers have taken to calling it the Disciples' prayer. Why? Well, the disciples of Christ asked him to teach them how to pray. They really had no clue so this is what Jesus gave them for a model.

I'm going to break it up into the sections I'll ultimately dissect so be thinking about what each one may mean. Pay special attention to punctuation.

Our Father, who art in Heaven

Hallowed be Thy Name.

Thy kingdom come

Thy Will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread.

Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.

Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

Thine is the Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory forever.


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A Poem for Christian Pipe Smokers

I redistributed this from my friend Ruke's Facebook page.

This Indian weed now wither´d quite,

Though green at noon, cut down at night,

Shows thy decay;

All flesh is hay.

Thus think, and smoke tobacco.

The pipe so lily-like and weak,

Does thus thy mortal state bespeak.

Thou are ev´n such,

Gone with a touch.

Thus think, and smoke tobacco.

All when the smoke ascends on high,

Then thou behold´st the vanity

Of worldly stuff,

Gone with a puff.

Thus think, and smoke tobacco.

And when the pipe grows foul within,

Think on thy soul defil´d with sin;

For then the fire,

It does require.

Thus think, and smoke tobacco.

And seest the ashes cast away;

Then to thyself thou mayest say,

That to the dust

Return thou must.

Thus think, and smoke tobacco.

Part II

Was this small plant for thee cut down?

So was the Plant of great renown;

Which mercy sends

For nobler ends.

Thus think, and smoke tobacco.

Doth juice medicinal proceed

From such a naughty foreign weed?

Then what´s the pow´r

Of Jesse´s flow´r?

Thus think, and smoke tobacco.

The promise, like the pipe inlays,

And by the mouth of faith conveys

What virtue flows

From Sharon´s rose.

Thus think, and smoke tobacco.

In vain the´unlighted pipe you blow;

Your pains in outward means are so,

Till heav´nly fire

The heart inspire.

Thus think, and smoke tobacco.

The smoke, like burning incense, tow´rs;

So should a praying heart of yours,

With ardent cries,

Surmont the skies.

Thus think, and smoke tobacco.”

from The Sermons, and Other Practical Works of Ralph Erskine

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Here goes nothing.

Well, this is an idea I've kicked around for a little bit so here it is. This blog is more than likely going to end up being a reiteration of my morning Bible studies.

We go to Resurgence Church (http://www.resurgencecommunity.com/) that meets in Evansville. I've got to say this is probably the best congregation I've had the opportunity to be a part of.

I'll recap Pastor Jeremy's method for Bible study. I've often wondered "how do I read this thing?" I've been churched my whole life but never had a pastor sit down and say "This is how you study the Bible on your own, without 'My Utmost For His Highest' or any other study guide. This way I can read whatever I am reading and be able to understand it. I know it helped me, maybe it will help somebody else. This is called the CLEAR Method.

C: Call On God. I usually use this portion for my morning prayers. I always start by thanking God for everything he's given to this fool, and Praising Him. This is modeled for us in The Lord's Prayer. I might do a study on that later. "Call On God" is a good time to ask Him for guidance while you read your Bible.

L: Look Into God's Word. One Thing. Don't try to get an entire concept or dissertation in your daily devotion. A lot of times just one thing is enough to wreck your life. I generally write down the scripture that hits me. It is not such a great idea to just open up your Bible, close your eyes and point. Maybe the first day, but after that you want some continuity. It will help with the next part.

E: Embrace. What is the context? You can't just pull a verse out of the middle of a page and expect it to do you a whole heck of a lot of good - especially since a lot of them pick up in the middle of an idea (especially the Pauline writings, boy could that guy write a run on sentence, you know, the kind your grammar teacher got onto you for doing because you're really supposed to have just one idea in any given sentence, except Paul used a lot of commas and several ideas and most of his sentences were an entire paragraph in and of themselves.)

This is a good time, if you have time, to do a little history research. It helps to at least have an inkling of what was going on at the time. However, you can glean a lot from the - wait for it - context. What was happening at the time the author wrote the letter or epistle? Who was the author? Where was he? Who was he writing to? What sort of no no's was the recipient involved in? You'll see, especially in Paul's letters, the more things change the more they stay the same.

A: Application. The inevitable question: How does this apply to me? I heard one time that's not a good question to ask. I don't remember when or where or who said it. If we can't ask "How does this apply to me?" then what good is it? This is a good time to do some soul searching. Remember the only people present when you do your study are you and God. God already knows what you've been up to so you don't have to pretend with Him. It's better that you didn't. If you really want your lunch handed to you, read Hebrews. That's where I am right now and I got reprimanded in a rather alarming way this morning.

R: Reaction. God makes the change. How many times have you said "I'll change I swear! I'll get right on it. Tomorrow." We can't do anything on our own and don't try to tell me otherwise. Everybody has their demon. Everybody knows that demon. Some of us are rather fond of that demon. Only God can beat the devil. Christians cannot beat the devil on their own, and they can't cast out demons on their own. Only through the power of Christ are we able to overcome Satan. This is the part where confession is a very good idea partly because we've just had a sin revealed to us.

So, this is how I've been studying my Bible. I can honestly say for the first time I am enjoying it. And, I am making sure I have time for it in the mornings. The longest this has taken me is about half an hour. How many people can say "wow I spent half an hour with God today. Wish I had that time back"? Me neither.

You may be wondering "so that's the Bible part, what about the briar part?" Well, I will probably from time to time do what we do on www.my-pipes.net. What's your pipe today? What's the blend today? I'm not going to try to sell anything, but I like to puff on my pipe while I study. I've always had a sort of absent minded activity to go along with something that has required thought. It helps me focus. Sometimes it's coffee. Sometimes a pipe. Seldom is it music anymore, I am beginning to cherish the quiet things in life.

Life has gotten so complicated as of late, especially with the advent of mobile devices, I have been enjoying the throwbacks to yesteryear. I have a halfway decent pipe collection. I shave with a straight razor. I drink my coffee black. I don't have a cell phone or a television and I listen to radio shows from the 30's and 40's. I take my Bible and Church very seriously.

Everything has become "rush rush rush", I think we need to slow down. A pipe - you can't rush. You'll hurt yourself and it's a loose/loose situation. Take your time, pack, light, tamp, light, puff. A straight razor you can't rush - you'll REALLY hurt yourself. Strop cotton, strop leather. Fill the sink with hot water, wet the rag and soften your skin. Lather the brush, gently shave. Black coffee you can't rush. Too much bitter too fast and you gag. Plus you'll burn your tongue then you can't taste your pipe. Old time radio shows are all about the dialogue. Listen.

Your Bible you can't rush. You'll miss the point of the lesson and a chance to better yourself.

Slow down, enjoy life.