In my ballet class as in heaven…

When my daughter was younger, we used to read a Bible story and pray before she went to sleep. And quite often, as you might expect, we’d pray the Lord’s prayer. And then one evening, when she was about nine, I suddenly began to wonder what some of those oh-so-familiar, oh-so-rich words might mean to a little girl of nine: ‘Your Kingdom come, Your Will be done on earth as it is in heaven.’
It is a prayer that is global in scope: That God’s Will would be done on earth as God’s Will is done in heaven. It’s a prayer that says Your Will be done in my church and in the local council, in the homegroup and in the swimming pool, in the Sunday school and in the school, in the soup kitchen and in the hospital, in the factory and the queue for the checkout… Nothing is left out.
And what could these words mean to my nine-year-old daughter?
Not very much, I concluded.
So from time to time, we’d pray it differently: ‘Your Kingdom come, Your Will be done in my school as in heaven, in my classroom as in heaven, in my ballet class…’
Your Will be done on earth as it is in heaven and in the bit of the earth you’ve placed me in, in my street, in my town, on my frontline.
God teaches us to pray this prayer and to live in ways that contribute to its fulfilment – wherever we are.

Fruitfulness on the Frontline Mark Greene
Fruitfulness on the Frontline

The invitation.

Colossians 1:9, 10: We pray that you will also have great wisdom and understanding in spiritual things so that you will live the kind of life that honors and pleases the Lord in every way. You will produce fruit in every good work and grow in the knowledge of God.

Colossians 1:20: And through Christ, God has brought all things back to himself again—things on earth and things in heaven. God made peace through the blood of Christ’s death on the cross.

The invitation to follow Jesus, then, is not just an invitation to spend eternity in His presence, not just an invitation to others to spend eternity in His presence; it is an invitation to cooperate with Him in making His world as much like He intends it to be before He returns. That’s His invitation to you. Which frankly sounds like something worth giving one’s life to.

Fruitfulness on the Frontline Mark Greene
Fruitfulness on the Frontline

Week 12: The Miracles of Jesus

The five readings this week highlight Jesus’ power to overrule the forces of nature.  Changing water into wine, calming the sea, feeding more than five thousand people from a few loaves and fish, walking on water and causing a fig tree to wither.

The Bible tells us that ‘Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever’ (Hebrews 13:8).  So if Jesus had the ability and want to do these things then, He will also reveal His glory and help people put faith in Him today.

Knowing God and knowing about God

We should distinguish between knowing about God and really knowing God.  Knowing about God just deals with facts.  Really knowing God includes relationship.

From Understanding Theology in 15 Minutes a Day by Daryl Aaron

Theology

Week 11: More Parables of Jesus

Half way

We’re now halfway through our Essential Jesus Challenge!

Our next five readings cover perhaps the greatest theme that emerges from Jesus’ parables:  The Kingdom of God.  They also cover some of the ‘I am…’ statements of Jesus:  … the Good Shepherd, the Vine, and so on.

A Prayer for Mothering Sunday

A Prayer for Mothering Sunday, taken from the Bath and Wells Children and Families Adviser

Loving God, we give You thanks for all who care for us,
who have encouraged us and helped us grow,
who have forgiven us,
and cared for us when we are unwell,
who have supported us when times were hard,
who have challenged us,
who have told us about You.
Thank you, Lord.

Amen

Loving God, we pray for those for whom Mothering Sunday is a time of heartache rather than celebration.
We pray for those who have never known their mother or whose mothers have died, for those who long to be mothers but as yet have not had their own children, for those who struggle with the way their children have chosen to live their lives and for those who have a difficult relationship with their mother.
May they have the comfort of knowing that Your love for them is constant, Your understanding is perfect, Your compassion is never-ending.

Amen

Week 10: The Parables of Jesus

Jesus spoke to a wide variety of people.  Some of His listeners were devoted followers, some were arch enemies, some were confused onlookers, some were hurting souls and some, like us, would only read His words centuries later. But all of them could relate to a good story. This week we are going to explore the parables of Jesus, the world’s greatest storyteller.

Not a church for ourselves, but for people who don’t like church.

Here is something that has made me think:

Redeemer [the name of the writer’s Church in New York] was founded on the principle that “we are not a church for ourselves, but for people who don’t like church.” From the very first days… that commitment has been the foundation beneath all of Redeemer’s priorities. We have never sought to gather those who already believe, or take people away from other churches, but to address the secular, skeptical ‘New Yorker’ who would ordinarily not attend church.

Because of this foundational commitment, God has given Redeemer the rare gift of being able to communicate the gospel plausibly and persuasively to people in the most difficult to reach demographic in the country. But this comes with a price. It means that we must always remind ourselves that we inside the Church are not to put our own likes, dislikes, priorities and personal agendas ahead of the needs of those outside the church. This is difficult to the point of being nearly impossible, as the needs and desires of members (for series and budget and training and attention from leaders) will always be more visible and voluble than the needs of people who aren’t even there and mostly are unable to articulate their spiritual needs.

Wendy Keller.  Taken from the Redeemer Church website, and quoted in a book I have just finished reading, Ready Steady Grow by Ray Evans.
ready steady grow

How can I know God?

We can know God for one reason only:  God has made Himself known.  If God had not chosen to do this, we could not have known Him.  That is, God is not accessible through our senses, our reason, our experience, or any other means apart from His willingness to be accessible. Our knowledge of God is absolutely dependent upon divine revelation;  and not only is He willing to be known, He desires to be known.

From Understanding Theology in 15 Minutes a Day by Daryl Aaron.

The Queen of Sciences

Up until the last couple of centuries, studying God was known as the ‘queen of the sciences.’  The assumption was that since everything comes from God, nothing can be sufficiently studied apart from God. Therefore, you were not considered to be educated in any field of study unless you had also studied theology.

From Understanding Theology in 15 Minutes a Day by Daryl Aaron.

Theology