Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Top 10 Things I'm Thankful For

Turkey day is almost here. Thought I would release this week’s Thursday Thinking a day early. I’ll be spending tomorrow with family eating and watching football. So, here are some of the things I want to express thanks for.

My Top 10 things I’m thankful for

1. That I live in one of the greatest countries in the world. Come on, despite the changes and crazy stuff happening, you have to admit we live in an awesome country!

2. Jesus Christ, the Father, and the Spirit and all they have done and continue to do on my behalf. The Trinity is sweet!

3. My wife who makes me a better person. So much of who I have become is because of her and I’m very thankful for that (this line should get me some brownie points! Ha!). She’s also in love with Jesus and that’s hot!

4. 2 beautiful daughters. Kids are awesome. It was fun being one, but I think it’s more fun raising one (it’s also tough). Now you get to laugh at all the silly things they do and tell all your family about it and hear, “You used to do that too!”

5. God’s Word because it reveals to us Jesus and teaches us everything we need to know about Him and the kingdom of heaven. You gotta love the Bible!

6. All my family (in-laws and out-laws). They really exemplify Christ-like love in all they do and say. We all get along very well and enjoy hanging out with one another. How many people can say that about all of their family?

7. Great friends. I have so many wonderful friends. Funny thing is I don’t deserve such great friends because I have really failed at friendship (Would I really want to become friends with me?). I love meeting and hanging out with them. I have friends that belong to Christ and some who don’t. I learn from both.

8. Cooler weather. I enjoy autumn and winter. I’m not a big fan of warm weather, so this is my favorite time of year. There’s even a song that supports my view and sings, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year!”

9. Christmas lights. They’re pretty and my daughter gets excited whenever she sees them. All the new LED lights can be spotted a mile away and they draw you in like a bug zapper. Awesome lights!

10. Vehicles. It’s so great to be able to drive around to work, home, bookstore, etc. We usually are only thankful for our vehicles after they break down and we get them fixed. Before that happens to me again, I want to say I’m thankful for it while it’s still running. Could you imagine doing all we do today on horseback or in buggies?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

When and where do we pray? (part 2)

Nelsman did a superb job in summing up the way we should view and interpret Jesus’ teachings on prayer in Matthew 6 (from the comments last week). Here is his comment in regards to praying in public and if it is ok or not:

Sounds like it on the surface, but Jesus prayed in the presence of the disciples in John 17, gave thanks for food for the 5 thousand in Mark 6:41, prayed for Lazarus in front of others in John 11:41. So this reads more like a warning to not turn a prayer into a performance "to be seen by men". Maybe Jesus is leading us into private prayer so we will not be tempted to go beyond a one on one relationship with the Father

It's some great thoughts on this matter. The key is the heart. What is the heart? It’s that area where choice and will come from. It is our motive for why we do what we do. If you read the first verse of Matthew 6 you can see that Jesus is talking about motive. Matthew 6:1 (NRSV) reads,

Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heave.

I think it’s ridiculous and wrong to interpret Jesus’ teachings on giving, prayer and fasting apart from this first verse. It clearly connects to everything that follows. Jesus clearly teaches that it is all about the heart. He is telling us it is all about our motive.

I’ve heard Christians tell me that it’s ok for Muslims to pray in public but Christians are to go to a private place and pray. I’ve even heard some people say it’s wrong to do public prayer in church. Those two comments are examples of how NOT to interpret Matthew 6. If your reason for wanting to pray in public is ok you can pray whenever and wherever you want. Jesus has given us freedom to do that! Nelsman gave some great examples of Him praying in public.

So, if you ever hear someone state Christians are not supposed to pray in public you have opportunity (maybe even responsibility?) to correct them and bring them back to the heart of the matter. Take them to Matthew 6:1 and make sure they catch and understand the phrase “in order to be seen by them”.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

When and where do we pray?

Sorry to miss last week, was in class all day Thursday and Friday. Matthew 6 is a fun passage of scripture to read. I’m curious as to how you interpret Jesus’ words in verses 5 and 6 in regards to prayer? So, here are a few questions to get you thinking.

- Is He saying we should never pray in public?
- What about praying publicly when the church is gathered?
- Does this mean Christians should stop praying for their meals while out to eat?
- Is Jesus saying God only hears our prayers when we pray in secret?

What do you think?