This coming church year one of the areas that the elders want the church to focus on is the area of corporate prayer. That’s why we’ve set aside quarterly times for the whole church to gather and pray (the first one is Aug 26th). We can also pray together in our home groups and in our homes. How often our devotional prayers are characterized by coldness or unbelief or just going through the motions. Praying with others is often a means of grace in that we are called to be more engaged more alert and more in faith than when we are praying by ourselves.
Last week we finished our Isaiah series, a rich time with one who is perhaps the greatest writing prophet of the Old Testament. Isaiah took us to the heights of God's glory and to the depths of human depravity and helped us see new aspects of Jesus Christ.
But what now? What is the plan for sermons to come?
Our God is a God who answers prayer. Sometimes He says, “Yes, immediately,” like He did with my hearing. But, sometimes He says, “No.” And sometimes He says, “Wait, be patient. Trust my way, my timing.” Yet I can still say, “Praise God,” even then because I have learned that somehow the slower healing process, and even the “no's”, are for His glory and for my good as I have seen again and again with the PTSD. Our God is a God who hears our cries and answers our prayers, always.
In our first-world, developed society reading is almost becoming a lost art. In Tanzania’s rural, functionally illiterate society, reading is yet to be found. This summer Oliver, Henry, and I, along with my father (Tim Neet) and another gentleman (Rod Johns), will be going over to the Kilimanjaro region of Tanzania to spend time with the students and faculty at Siha Leadership Academy. We will be sharing with them problem solving strategies through creative and critical thinking using literature, LEGOs, and logic puzzles.
“We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the LORD, and his might, and the wonders that he has done” (Psalm 78:4)
Each week dozens of men and women (and young men and women) give up hours of their Sunday morning to minister the Word of God to the next generation of the church. Why go to such effort? There are (at least) four reasons.
“Better than…silver…better than gold.”
We spend a lot of time seeking some version of “silver” and “gold,” but there’s something “better.” Proverbs tells us that something better is wisdom. Silver and gold can buy cars and houses but not happiness. They can buy wedding rings but not a happy marriage. They can buy vacation homes but not peace. We need wisdom.
As we get closer to Easter Sunday, it's good to stop and consider the cross of Christ when we can. To help you do that, here is a reflection from Hannah Michels on our place at the cross:
Where were you the day he died?
Were you among the soldiers scoffing, beating, mocking?
Were you among the women weeping along the way?
Were you among the crowds watching, waiting reviling?
Were you among the thieves hanging, bleeding, dying?
Were you among the leaders washing your hands of guilt?
Were you among the scribes…
Robert Compton and his wife have been making pottery in Bristol, VT for decades. They produce beautiful pieces in a variety of ways. To finish a piece, the clay is often heated to over 2000 degrees. And for one process in the middle of this burning, they sprinkle water on the pieces. The cold water hitting the burning hot clay produces spackles that add unique design elements.
In his experimentation with different clays, glazes, and firing methods Robert Compton does…whatever he wants. He is the complete master over the clay in all of his endeavors.
Paul opens 1 Corinthians 14 with an impassioned appeal: “Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy” (v. 1). In 12:31 he called love “a still more excellent way” in comparison with the other spiritual gifts. Then in chapter 13 he warned us that practicing spiritual gifts without love is being “a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal” (13:1), to be “nothing” (13:2), and to “gain nothing” (13:3). Further, he goes on to tell us that the spiritual gifts have an expiration date. They will last only until “the perfect comes” (13:10), which means the return of Christ.
New York Times, USA Today, and the BBC ran obituaries the day Billy Graham died. Various evangelical voices are adding their reflections on this historical and often controversial North Carolinian. The Billy Graham Center at Wheaton has a good biography of his life on their site. It is estimated that he preached to 250 million people in his lifetime as an evangelist. He is known for preaching an uncompromised gospel at a time when compromise was infecting the American church in massive proportions.