The Apologists Evening Prayer

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The Apologist's Evening Prayer:

From all my lame defeats and oh! much more

From all the victories that I seemed to score;

From cleverness shot forth on thy behalf

At which, while angels weep, the audiance laugh;

Thou, who wouldst give no sign, deliver me.

Thoughts are but coins, let me not trust, instead of Thee

their thin worn image of thy head.

From all my thoughts, even from my thoughts of Thee,

Oh Thou fair silence, fall, and setme free.

Lord of the narrow gate, and needle's eye

Take from me all my trumpery, lest I die.

---C.S. Lewis

Where is the Church?


Last week a friend of mine attended his high school reunion. There he had a conversation with two of his classmates who were surprised that he had become a Christian. "Where was the Church," the first friend asked, "when thousands of Africans were rounded up, shipped across the Atlantic, and sold into slavery? Where was the church, as Hitler rose to power in Germany, and shipped millions of Jews to their deaths at concentration camps? Where was the church," he continued, "when hundreds of blacks in the south marched and protested for equal rights during the sixties?"
"Give him a break," the second friend came to my friend's defense, "the Church was where they always have been. They were having potlucks, and choir practice. The church can't do anything about those things, they are merely an irrelevant social organization."
The sting of an insult, is in the truth it contains. Where was the Church?
The Church, was a lone member of Parliament in 1787 named William Wilberforce, who, despite starting as a hopeless minority, helped to pass the "Slavery Abolition Act," which abolished slavery in Brittan in 1833.
The Church was a brave family named Ten-Boom, who hid Jews in the walls of their home in Holland, and were later imprisoned themselves by the Nazis.
And many historians credit the "Black" church with being the catalyst of the American Civil Rights movement.
The tragedy of the Church throughout these events and all injustice throughout time, is that injustice and the church can coexist. Wilberforce's feat was necessary because Christians, in two societies thought to be as such, allowed slavery to be culturally acceptable. Hitler rose to power despite many Christian citizens in Germany and Europe who were either too ignorant, too complacent, or too scared to oppose him. And tragically, it was many members of the "White" Church, who the "Black" church was forced to defy in their quest for civil rights.
The triumph, is in the tremendous courage displayed by each of the examples I've listed above. They stood up for unpopular causes; in the face of overwhelming odds, dire consequences in the case of failure, and little hope for success. Their courage could no doubt have come from the same source as the will to oppose each of their foes. Namely, Christ himself.
That is not a satisfactory answer to the first classmate's questions, but I am not concerned with him. I want to rail against the second classmate's response. Not at the one who said it, but at the one it was said about. And it was said about me, and if you are still reading this, it was said about us.
The church has become such a knock-kneed, panty-waisted, organization, that we are now thought of as irrelevant, and incapable of solving any social crises. This in the aftermath of the Bush presidency, which many claim was made possible by "evangelicals." We can elect a president, but we have no interest in fighting injustice. Did you say, as I did at first, that our generation has no injustice to fight against? Darfur. The Taliban oppression of women and non-muslims in Afghanistan and increasingly Pakistan. Abortion. Did you know that presently there is more human slavery in the world than at any other time in modern history? We are surrounded by injustice. Are we too busy voting for praise band leaders on American Idol to notice. Or, is our time better spent fighting the "injustice" of a beauty pageant contestant who may not have been crowned because she expressed a politically incorrect view.
The injustices present today are here because the Church has become silent. Are we too ignorant, too complacent, or too scared to rage. It is time to rise oh Church. Christ is our captain, how can we fail? We must cease to be a collection of girly-men. We must look at the example of Christ and live it to the fullest. In the tired metaphor, Christ is the lion who lay with the lamb. But first he was a lion.
I don't know how to stop abortion. I can only point to Darfur on a map, and I have never met a slave. But I know that today's Church is not equipped to deal with any of these things. All of us go to church because we need church. And who can stand without Christ? But we must now begin to work from our salvation. We have not been called to be a weak organization, our charge is to be a beacon on a hill. I fear that God will grant my prayer, but I am compelled to, nay I must, ask him to show me the way to fight injustice. Many have put this prayer more eloquently than I ever could.
"My Lord; most humbly and on my knee I beg the leading of the charge." The Duke of York before The Battle of Agincort from Shakespear's Henry V.
"It is a good day to die. Leaders and brave hearts up front with me, cowards in the middle." Crazy Horse at Little Big Horn.
Where was the Church? Where is the Church? Here we are Lord, send us.

Globalizations biggest fans.


The Atlantic [Monthly] is a magazine I respect and enjoy.  Most of my friends think that I place too much trust in "liberal" media outlets but I appreciate good writing, not that anyone reading this blog would have drawn that conclusion, and most of the best writing today is in the so called liberal media. (The writers of The Economist may take exception to my comments).  

I was intrigued by an article in the April issue with the following teaser; "Why God Loves Globalization."  I studied "globalization" in undergrad.   Well, that's what I did if I wasn't playing rugby and singing rude songs, (alas I am the marrying kind), so maybe it's better to say that I have a mild interest and cluttered background on the topic.  Suffice to say that I read article with interest.
The article was adapted from Robert Wright's book, The Evolution of God.  Wright's point is that the three Abrahamic religions; Christianity, Judaism and Islam all benefited from globalization.  There are many definitions for globalization but one of them is, the rapid flow of people and ideas to all parts of the globe.  So one could argue that any religion (idea) would benefit from globalization.  Most of the featured text concerns Christianity, and Wright's first statement concerning Christianity regards the accuracy of the Gospel of Mark in contrast to the other gospels (John, Luke and Matthew).  He bases this assumption on the fact that Mark was written first and the assumption that the other Gospels are merely copies of Mark.  This is a very popular idea these days as Bart Ehrman leans heavily on it in Misquoting Jesus.  
Wright spends the rest of the portion on Christianity convincing the reader of what a great globalist the apostle Paul was.  How he recognized the Roman need for a social organization, and filled that need with the church, how he used the latest technology and Rome's great road system to spread his epistle's all over the world, and how he took advantage of wealthy, privileged people to help him host his churches.  
I don't know anything about Robert Wright, but he echoes every other Johnny-Come-Lately expert on Christianity that I've heard.  Instead of examining the Gospel, and Paul's writing as if they are divinely inspired texts which fit into a place in time specifically designed to have maximum impact on the history of the world, they put the cart in front of the horse.  Matthew, Luke and John were not inspired eye witnesses, but  poor copiers of Mark.  Paul was not a humble servant of God, penning the ideas divined from the Holy Spirit, but an evil genius, inserting his own ideas about a good man (Jesus) that he never met.  To what ends I don't know, for Paul was executed because of his belief.  Ehrman,  Wright, and others who share their ideas, seem uncomfortable calling the whole of Christianity a sham, instead they just want to do away with all the miraculous bits of it.
The trouble is that the whole idea of Christianity is miraculous.  It is the account of God becoming a man, being killed, then being raised from the dead.  Throw out the supernatural from that statement and one is left with nothing but murder.  Wright has made some wonderful observations about the placement of the early church in history.  But instead of seeing this as evidence of God's providence, he blames Paul for spreading a sham that could not have been spread one hundred years prior.  Only, Wright doesn't have the integrity to call Christianity a sham outright, he just leads the reader there.
If we are to believe in the Jesus that today's scholars are trying to convince us existed, we must throw out anything that makes him worthy of worship.  Every time I read stuff like this I am more convinced of divine influence throughout history, exactly the opposite of what the authors want.  I guess Robert Wright isn't near the globalist that Paul was. 

Who is King of "Kings"


For several years now the "liberal" media has been savvy to two things:  One, there are a lot of people who consider themselves Christians in this country.  Two, those people spend a lot of money on entertainment.  According to the US Census Bureau 51.3 percent of the population claim to be "Protestant," and another 23.9 percent claim to be Catholic.  It should come as no surprise then that someone might try and make some money from all these Christians running around seeking amusement.  There is a new show on NBC that appears to do just that.  Kings is modeled on everyone's favorite biblical king, King David.

There is a Rev. Samuel, who establishes himself as a prophet early on. Our hero is named David Shepherd.  Saul er Silas Benjamin is King, and we know he has turned away from God when he gives a monologue endorsing evolution.  In the first episode David, blows up a Goliath tank but he uses a grenade instead of a smooth stone, he even takes off his "armor" before going out to fight Goliath.  This is the story of David, there is no use listing parallels, because only the setting is different.
Well there are a few differences.  One is that Jonathan (Saul's son) is actually a homosexual named Jack, and from the first episode it doesn't look too much like he will be enjoying a friendship with David.  Most striking however is that David is not the warrior the Bible claims he was.  David is peaceful, he hates war.  Instead of slaughtering the enemy David makes peace.  The David I read about was a little different.  Consider; I Samuel 18:27, II Samuel 2:31, II Samuel 4:12, and II Samuel 10:18.
But this David is perfect for 20th century America.  We all want to be Christians, but only to the point where it is comfortable for us.  Good, wise and loving King David would never have killed two hundred people, then mutilated them.  That part of the story is unattractive let's forget about it and show how David was peaceful.  
I think there are two possible motives for this.  One is that the producers want to make a television program that the most people will watch.  I think they've made King David exactly how 51.3 percent of the country imagines him.  The second is more sinister.  Now that NBC has shown us how biblical they are, maybe they feel like they can slip a few ideas into some Bible stories and move the opinions' of the viewers.
This sounds a little like all of the typical anti-media garbage that comes from Pat Robertson and company.  (I see you Mr. Dobson)  I really don't think the "media" has any hidden secret motives, save one, to make as much money as possible.  To that end the media shows us what we want to see.  But what if what is really behind the subtle changes to David's character are from both motives?  Is the peaceful, war-hating David, the one we want to believe in?  It is easy to replace the imagery I had in my head of what I interpret to have really happened, with that of a well-produced Sunday night drama.  And if I do I can skip over all the parts that I don't understand or that I don't like.
I enjoyed the first episode of the series, and will probably continue watching.  But we must be careful with all of this Christianity in popular culture.  As my favorite philosopher said, "We have seen the enemy, and they is us."  The more "Bible stories," that get dramatized, the less of the Truth we may know. 

Sunday morning prayer, March 15, 2009


The fourth in my Sunday morning prayer series, feel free to use them as you see fit. (Perhaps as an example of what not to do)

Praise the Lord from the earth. Mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars. Creeping things and flying birds. Let them praise the name of the Lord for his name alone is exalted; His majesty is above Earth and Heaven. (Psalm 148: 9-13)

We thank you Lord that You have called us here to worship this morning. We are mindful of those who work to translate your word so that all peoples can hear your call. Bless the efforts of each and every translation project, give energy to those, Your servants, who work faithfully to Your purpose. For, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring the good news." (Romans 10:15)

We want You to make us into a mighty church Lord. Today we ask that you make this church reflect You. Just as the full moon reflects light from the sun, and becomes a bright light in the dark night. Make us "a city set on a hill, that cannot be hidden." (Matthew 5:14)

Protect us Father from the turbulent times in which we live. Be with our leaders and give them wisdom to make good decisions. Calm our markets, be "the invisible hand" and guide us through this economic crises. Aid our nation in this war we fight against an unconventional opponent. Keep America righteous, so that we can be assured that our cause is righteous. Work in the hearts of our allies in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq. Protect their minds from the propaganda and tactics of the enemy. Be with our loved ones who are even now in harms way Lord. Assure them that You are with them, and that "though they walk through the valley of the shadow of death, they should fear no evil." (Psalm 23:4)

"Give ear to our words, O Lord; consider our groaning. Give attention to the sound of our cries, our King and our God, for to You do we pray." (Psalm 5:1,2) We are troubled. Divorce plagues our families, sickness plagues our bodies, and discouragement plagues our hearts. Remind us of your promises God, remind us that You are our deliverer, and that glory is our reward. For we know that you have promised to answer when we call, to be with us in trouble and to rescue and honor us. (Psalm 91).

Now we prepare to go out to the daily battles you put before us Lord. Some of us battle against outward opponents such as coworkers and people we know, others against illness and impossible tasks. And I dare say Lord that we all struggle with inner battles against temptation and sin. Whatever our opponent Lord, make us mighty and righteous warriors. Become our strength Father so that we can overcome the evil that surrounds us. Commune with us constantly Lord, speak clearly your commands, and give us the courage to follow them.

Sunday morning prayer March 8, 2009


Here is the third prayer in the series...

"How lovely is your dwelling place O Lord of Hosts. Our souls long, yes faint for the courts of the Lord; our hearts sing for joy to the living God." (Psalm 84:2)
We love to be in your presence God. Thank You Lord for bringing us here to worship you. We are mindful today God of the many people who have not heard your word, and do not know to worship you. We ask that you bless the missionaries You have sent out to bring your word to all those who have not yet heard.

Again we ask Lord that you continue to bless our little Church. Bless our children. Grow them into men and women who love You. Make them wise and make them holy.

This week Father we found out that unemployment is at record levels, and our stock indexes are at long time lows. Father you have showed us again and again not to trust in the institutions of men, now give us reason to trust in You. For "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea." (Psalm 46:1-3)

Our country is involved in a multi-front war against a group of people with a world view opposed in every way to ours. Some of our own children Lord are in uniform fighting this war. Keep them safe. Give our generals wisdom to make right decisions in theater and on battlefield. But most of all Lord, bring our enemies to You. Send brave messengers, and use miraculous circumstances to persuade our enemies to lay down their arms, and to embrace Your Son.

Many of us feel that our nation is in more than just financial decline. We worry that the culture in our society is downright pagan. Bless the leaders whom you have given us, help them to make right and wise decisions. And mold culture to You. Raise up people who love you, perhaps even some in this room, to places of influence, so that we can become a nation pleasing to You.

You know God that for us living a life pleasing to you comes down to daily battles. Sometimes, with your help, we win those battles, but many times we fail by succumbing to temptation, sloth and sin. We know that we are forgiven and made holy by You, but we hate our sin. Motivate us Father to put forth the good fight and help us to overcome our sin. Remind us of your word in I Timothy, which says; "But as for you oh man of God; flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called." (I Timothy 6:12)

We still have the terminally ill among us God. Our families are still in strife. Each week all of us are burdened by new worries. We constantly seek your comfort. "Be merciful to us O God, be merciful to us, for in you our souls take refuge; till the storms of destruction pass by." (Psalm 57:1)

Make us strong Lord. Help us to win our daily battles. Help us to make everything we do, and everything we are, Yours. And next week when we gather before you again, help us to be able to say; "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith." I press on. (II Timothy 4:3)

Sunday Morning Prayer, March 1, 2009


The second in a series of prayers I've done for my church, minus a few specifics, enjoy, and discuss if you please.

"Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the world, from everlasting to ever lasting, you are God." (Psalm 90:2)
Our God, we cannot conceive of the words to give you proper praise. "How great are your works Oh Lord." (Psalm 92:5)

Father we are a blessed church in a blessed nation. Let us not take for granted our freedom to gather and worship You. Please protect our brothers around the world who are even now persecuted for doing just the same. Please continue to bless this church Lord. Make us rich with knowledge of you. And make us overflow with love for one another.

Another week has passed God and we are weary. Sometimes it seems that the tasks you have laid out for us are impossible. Remind us God that it is You that assign us these tasks, and that we are to complete them to Your glory. "And that with God, all things are possible." (Matt 19:26)

You know God that our nation's, and most of the world's economy is in dire straights. Remind us that it is You that determines when nations prosper, and when nations decline. Nonetheless, many of us have watched the value of our homes diminish over the last year, some of us have faced cuts in pay, still others have lost their jobs completely. Despite Your words about the sparrows, and the grass of the field we, worry. Comfort us God, and teach us not to worry. "We will say to You Lord, 'Our Refuge and our Fortress, our God in whom we trust." (Psalm 91:2)

Our congregation ails Lord. Some of our families are facing divorce, and some of us have been treated unjustly in our jobs. We don't know why you have allowed this tribulation into our lives God. Please end our sorrows Lord. Lend us your strength and make us mighty in our pain and our persecution. Let us learn to need you. Others among us Lord are ill, some terminally so. Remind us to fear not those that can kill the body, but cannot harm the soul. (Matt 10:28a) Some here are worried about their loved ones who are fighting our nations battles in foreign lands. We know God that Your legions of angels are more powerful than any improvised explosive device, or suicide bomber. Keep those we love safe Lord, and bring them home swiftly. Bless their efforts God, and make our nations military to do your work in that troubled region.

Gird us for the trials that will come next week. Keep us grounded in Your word, in Prayer and in fellowship, so that we may emerge victorious from all that challenges us. Remind us of your promise in Psalm 91 that says "Because he holds fast to Me in Love I will deliver him; I will protect him because he knows my name. When he calls to me, I will answer him. I will be with him in times of trouble. I will rescue him and honor him." (Psalm 91:15)