Prayer

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Dear Heavenly Father,

Who made all galaxies and atoms.
The oyster and the comet,
The redwood and the flea,
The coyote and the quasar,
And so much more…

By the word of Your mouth You formed them–
by Your own imagination You designed them.
They never were before You spoke them.
You formed them from Your fertile mind with no design to copy.

Only You are creative, oh God.
Nations rise and nations fall.
Your Kingdom abides forever.

I lift up my eyes to the vast expanse of space and stars.
The stars you string like beads on a necklace.

What is Humanity in Your sight?
We cannot thwart Your plans–
With all our smarts and strength.
If You decreed gravity null and void who could oppose You?
If You ordered the earth to leave Sol’s orbit and plunged us into icy, endless night none could stop You.

In this hour we puny mortals fear a creature of yours–
much tinier than ourselves.
Oh Lord, defeat this inscrutable enemy.
and save us from our fear.
The inevitable fear
From those who think they control their fates,
That it all depends on them.

Work as we may, our work is futile without Your blessing.
Please show pity on us frail, pathetic creatures–barely bigger than a virus
In Your Infinite Eyes of compassion.

Amen.

Prayer

A Piece Originally Intended for Babylon Bee

Women’s Prayer Group Addresses the Coronavirus Threat by Worrying for the Entire Hour

 

The women’s prayer circle met as usual on Tuesday morning at Babbling Brook Baptist in the crying room.

As it’s common for this group to address current events, they brought up the Coronavirus and how it might affect their families. Then they sought to address this issue by talking to each other.

First they discussed who was most likely to get it and who would most likely die. They also discussed how to organize a year’s supply of toilet paper and whether it could still be purchased on Amazon.

They grumbled about how little the government was doing and discussed who deserved to be kicked out of office. Of course they argued. The only Democrat in the group stood her ground, but looked very uncomfortable as she screamed back at those who screamed at her.

Originally they meant to have a reading from the Word before closing. Something about not being anxious but presenting requests before God and something else about peace. But there was no time left.

So they continued to worry and fret out loud about the virus. Wishing they could actually do something, all the women put on their coats and hurried out the door.

A Piece Originally Intended for Babylon Bee

The Spiritual Dangers of Social Media Use

To Nick. A Catholic friend of mine who gave up Facebook for Lent to avoid letting it become his master instead of Christ Jesus.

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For starters there is nothing condemning social media in the Bible. It did not exist then. What did exist–and exists today–are lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.

I spent way too much time on Facebook till I got shut out due to forgetting my password and a glitch. Never been in jail since I try to stay out of fights. I seldom use Twitter because of all the nastiness there. A liberal, secular friend of mine complained of all the raw hatred she saw.

Like most Christians I’m politically conservative, but I must admit there’s nastiness both ways. I also admit to being guilty of it.

When a post of someone else–or a comment on something you posted–fills your heart with rage, ask yourself “Why am I angry?”

If someone insults you or calls you a name, remember not to answer them in the same manner. If they are upset because they misunderstood something you set, perhaps you should explain what you really meant. Use a soft answer to turn away wrath.

Or simply turn the other cheek virtually by ignoring the comment and pray silently. If the person makes a nuisance of him or herself, there are block aps on both Facebook and Twitter now.

Avoid reading angry comments that make it harder to love the other person. Remember that’s a human being on the other end, made in the image of God, regardless of what they say.

Before posting something, ask yourself, “Why am I posting this?”

  • Is it to show off how clever, rich, attractive I am? Or how attractive my mate, cute my children, or lavish my possessions are? Lust of the eyes.
  • Is it to read lots of recipes for cooking too many delicious things no one in my household needs to eat? Or to figure out which stylish but expensive clothes, furnishings, accessories to spend money on that the Lord wants me to spend on something more needful to usher in His Kingdom? Lust of the flesh.
  • Is it to “own” someone in a debate with everyone looking on? To force an opponent to bow to your awesome intellect as you best them in a battle of wits and totally humiliate them to the applause of spectators? Pride of Life.

Lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes and the pride of life. These tools of Satan have been around since the dawn of time.

It’s tempting to draw up some hard and fast rules to prevent yourself from being seduced into the sins of greed, vanity, or a deeper deadlier form of Pride (more self centered than the silly kind behind those duck faced selfies everywhere.) But that is a form of legalism.

I know a number of Christians I admire who admit to not being able to use social media without falling into the sin of quarreling. Others control their social media use by limiting time spent there, only using it as necessary for constructive purposes, or both.

Prayerfully setting up guidelines for yourself if you know you waste time or engage in sinful behaviors on these sites is the solution. Or cancel your account/s altogether. As my mature, godly brothers have done.

You can also fall into the sins of envy at seeing how much “better” others have it. Or wrath as you lurk in echo chambers dwelling on how horrible people are now. (Or troll other echo chambers to torment those you view as horrible.) You can become slothful as you spend excessive time on innocuous–but pointless YouTube videos and countless articles.

The problem with tweeting about “thoughts and prayers” is not that it offends nons but that it may be boastful. Like blowing a horn instead of the Prayer Closet Christ recommends. God knows your heart. Ask Him to reveal whether you want to call other Christians to pray for our elected officials–regardless of the earthly party–or show off how nice you are. Motives make all the difference in walking by the Spirit.

(And don’t judge the motives of others. Fruits or outward actions are to be judged–especially for our leaders and teachers. But only God can read the heart. Put the most charitable spin on others’ motivations till they have proven otherwise. Social media makes us think the worst of each other somehow.)

Good ways to use social media:

  •  Mutual support. (But take care if you join a support group for victims. I did and we nourished one another’s grievances–legitimate though many were. Finally we turned on each other. And I’m as guilty as the rest. I left in disgust at my own behavior.)
  • Encouraging one another in something. Writing and other hobbies. Holy living for Christians–not just focusing on what’s wrong with everybody else. Frugal living.
  • Quoting Scripture and uplifting sayings.
  • Keeping in touch with family and friends who live far away. I really miss Facebook for that.
  • Making business contacts. We need to work to eat.
  • Cute kitty videos, jokes, sharing recipes, keeping up to date on current events. All lawful in moderation.

“All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient….” 1 Corinthians 6:12

 

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Um…if you’re a Christian reading this I would appreciate your thoughts and prayers–if you truly offer them, though mentioning them won’t “trigger” me.

I’m struggling with excessive internet usage. It doesn’t help that I’m in chronic pain. Somehow diverting YouTube cartoons (Sports Goofy, Donald Duck, Bugs Bunny) distract me. My pernicious anemia makes reading sustained prose difficult. For some reason writing comes easier.

My loneliness causes me to spend excessive amounts of time on forums and in comment sections of blogs. It may not be good for man to be alone but right now I have no alternative.

Ideally I could use the internet to find work. But even that requires sustained concentration and regular output that I lack.

I’ll be getting more iron infusions starting next week. I restarted my B12 shots today. But I still ache all over and am exhausted though I struggle to sleep at night. The pain keeps waking me up. And pain pills upset my gut.

Any advice for practicing self restraint in these areas from my brothers and sisters would be welcome.

The Spiritual Dangers of Social Media Use

Christian Liberty and Love: The Two Commandments of the New Covenant

There’s debate over whether or not we Christians need to obey the Ten Commandments now. Well, technically no….

Yet at the same time all but keeping the Sabbath still apply.

There are only two commandments now. We don’t keep them to win our salvation–for that is already done. But God still commands them and the new heart He has placed in us causes us to want to obey them. They are as follows.

  1. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.
  2. Love your neighbor as yourself.

But if we love the Lord our God we will also have no gods before Him. We won’t take His profane His name.

If we love our neighbors (all we interact with) we won’t murder, steal, commit adultery, slander, or covet. We will also respect our parents when under their authority and care for them in their old age.

We will also go deeper and further than we did under the Old Covenant. The good news is God has given us the power to do so.

Not only will we refrain from murder but we will love everybody. Including those who hate us.

We will rejoice for those who enjoy blessings we know we never will.

We will refrain from objectifying attractive people even privately in our innermost hearts. It’s not just men who are guilty here. We will also refrain from dressing in a provocative manner to inspire lust in other people. (Whether they take the bait or not.)

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The difference between Grace and the Law reminds me of something that happened in a college class. I had transferred to  a secular college–long story–and we were supposed to give presentations for a class in social psychology.

A couple women gave one in which they mocked an old article clipping from the 1960’s about how a woman could freshen up properly and put the finishing touches on a meal to greet her husband at the door after a hard day at work.

What was their argument against the piece? That it didn’t prevent wife beating. Both women had escaped abusive marriages.

I listened but thought to myself, “This piece isn’t written for abuse victims trying to placate the monsters they had the misfortune to marry. Abusers can never be satisfied.

“This is written for women like my grandma who had decent husbands they wanted to please because he had spent a hard day earning money for them and their kids.

“The motive was love. Not fear or obligation.”

Even so. We are no longer serving God out of fear or obligation in the spirit of legalism. But out of love in the spirit of grace which has saved us.

Paradoxically we are able and willing to do far more out of love for the God Who has saved us by His grace than we would out of fear or obligation.

Christian Liberty and Love: The Two Commandments of the New Covenant

Materialism in the Western Church

Warning. A lot of this is generalities. Not all Christians. Not all Churches.

But this is a HUGE problem. Excessive focus on this fleeting life is allowing the world, the flesh, and the devil into our churches, homes, and hearts.

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A big problem with the mindset of American Christians in the 21st century–and I too struggle in this area–is how we act like this life is all there is.

We live like there is no spiritual realm at all. Making us functional materialists.

Yes, we fundamentalists pay lip service to spiritual truths and even hold to the Six Day account of Creation. (I do too.)

We claim we believe not just in God–as He exists in the Godhead (Trinity) as the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost–but in angels and demons. We claim to believe in Heaven and Hell. We claim to believe that we are more than just bodies with complex nervous systems and brains.

We claim to believe that God walked among us as a traveling preacher who embraced celibacy and a life of poverty before surrendering Himself to notoriety by dying an agonizing criminal’s death on the Cross. That God incarnate rejected a political solution for the ills that plague humanity in order to save us from our sins.

We claim to believe in sin….

But we fail to even consider how the insanity surrounding us–the nihilism and despair–is a spiritual phenomenon. How Satan is behind much of it–colluding with the sinful hearts of human beings–to bring about chaos, death, destruction.

We only talk about Heaven in funeral parlors. Instead of comforting ourselves in our afflictions with thoughts of its joys and splendors we distract ourselves with worldly amusements or seek advice from a worldly counselor.

We almost never think about Hell. Do we really believe in it?

So many of our friends and family members and acquaintances are headed there. Why aren’t our hearts breaking? Why aren’t we in tears night after night imploring God on behalf of the lost? Why are we obsessed with “owning” people in on social media–occasionally winning an argument by losing a friend?

Do you really believe that annoying atheist is in danger of a fate worse than death? A fate none of us should wish on our worst enemy? A fate God was so eager to save them from that He chose to send His beloved Son to suffer unspeakable torments? A fate we Christians deserve as much as anybody?

We laugh at the climate change extremists, but like them we imagine there is a carnal answer to a spiritual problem. That the Protestant Work Ethic, Family Values, a Classical Education, the Free Market are the solutions to what ails us.

There’s no denying that we live in a culture of death. But unless our hearts change passing new laws will not end it. Whether it’s handguns or abortions we ban.

We need to do what they did back in John Wesley’s time. What they did before Pentecost and the birth of the Church. Get together in small groups and pray that God will send His Spirit again to drive away the shadows from our souls.

Let us pray.

If you see a secular counselor that’s not a sin. But take her advice with a grain of salt, since secular counselors are about happiness and self fulfillment rather than holiness. As Christians our holiness must always come before earthly happiness.

I used to, but fired her after she repeatedly urged me to sin. That deserves its own post. Emotional abuse occurs with both religious and secular counselors.

(Abortions are murder. Handguns can be used for murder–or preventing it. I realize the two are not exactly the same, but the point is legislation cannot change the human heart.)

 

Materialism in the Western Church

Very Good Short Work

“Would You Like Your Jesus Upsized? McDonaldization and the Mega Church” by Elizabeth Cook addresses the real problem common to super large churches. Not just a problem with mega churches but it seems to run in them.

This is a view of consumerism or commodification of the Gospel. It’s troubling because it leads to a sense of entitlement when we should only experience gratitude as we kneel at the Cross.

This is the real problem. I’m sure not all mega churches have this. But many do.

It was one thing when we traded in handcrafted shoes for things put out by a factory. Ditto for clothes and often food.

Then it crept into the fine arts and writing. (At least day jobs allow artistic integrity.)

But now we are using the factory method to mass produce a worship product. Too frequently the Gospel is left out.

Would You Like Your Jesus Upsized_ McDonaldization and the Mega C (2)

Very Good Short Work

Call Me Miss Bates

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In Mere Christianity’s “Nice People or New Men” C.S. Lewis asks a question Pureflix wouldn’t touch with a ten foot pole. How come there are nice atheists and horrible Christians?

As a Christian this has always bothered me. Especially since my chronic pain and exhaustion makes me such a horrible person to live with.

I pray and manage to act nice mostly but struggle with inner stuff every day. Hard to be sweet tempered and nice when your body is wracked with pain and you worry about how you’ll provide for your basic needs when the only people who care about you are gone or incapacitated themselves.

But here’s what I find uplifting. Lewis compares two types. Friendly Richard the Nice Atheist. And grouchy, sour Miss Bates the Christian.

First there’s the assumption that Miss Bates actually is a Christian. The Church is attended regularly by hypocrites and phonies. The Parable of the Sheep and the Goats addresses this.

Lewis suggests that what seems like a nice disposition may just be a good digestive system. As someone with a horribly messed up GI, the thought makes me laugh. Funny because it’s true.

A sour stomach may sour your whole outlook on life. And negative experiences with humanity make you struggle to deal with people in a just, charitable manner.

God knows our limitations. As long as we are in these corrupt bodies of death we can never lead perfectly sinless lives. Though they Spirit kills our desire for sin it is a long slow death. It feels like He is killing us by degrees. Indeed He is so that He can bring us back as something better.

If we look at life as a training period it makes sense that the Lord allows His children to be afflicted in intense ways. It’s like a personal coach watching you run laps. After commending you on your speed he orders you to carry weights while you run.

Now, if you saw the whole process as running as many laps as possible you would accuse the coach of bad advice. But adding resistance is a part of bodily fitness too.

So allow yourself to hope that if you bear afflictions in as virtuous a manner as possible–submitting your pain to God–it will bring about blessings for all God’s children in the end.

Call Me Miss Bates