America the Broken

standard April 28, 2015 1 response

I live in a bubble. Not a perfect bubble, but it is pretty insulated. But no bubble exists today for the city of Baltimore, as it has been burst wide open. Monday’s riots were described as “crazy,” “chaotic,” and “surreal.” Protesters were outraged over the death of Freddie Gray and what they perceive to be undue racial profiling. Their grief is real and it is raw.

Protesters took to the streets chanting, “No Justice, No Peace!” Fires were set to businesses, rocks were hurled at police, and looting was rampant. The governor was forced to call a state of emergency for the city. Schools were cancelled, a curfew was set in place, and the National Guard was brought in to enforce safety. (Source: The Baltimore Sun) Obviously, the violence was out of control.

America the Beautiful is now seen as America the Broken.

So what is a bubble-dwelling Christian to do in response to such a broken situation? Pray. I can pray for peace and healing to come to a broken city. I can pray for my words to be used to extend grace and love rather than oppression and hate. I have no idea what it is like to live as a young, black male in gang-ridden neighborhood, but I can pray for him. Just as I have no idea what it is like to be a local law enforcer in a dangerous city, but I can pray for that officer.

There are prejudices that I don’t even know exist just because of the family that I was born into and the color of my skin. But others have to deal with them regularly. Prejudice happens to all races and all genders. I think the cry is how can we be more aware of these “hidden” prejudices? Instead of hurling the axe, what can we do to improve our own ignorance and receive grace for ourselves and give grace to others?

Jesus said, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

There will undoubtably be social injustices in the future. And there will be additional riots to ensue. Just as there will be personal prejudices to work out amongst ourselves. But we do have hope in the fact that Jesus has overcome the world. And until He returns, we can pray.

Take heart, Baltimore. We are praying for you.

How To Pray

standard February 18, 2015 1 response

Here in Louisiana we love a good party and Mardi Gras is the perfect outlet for one. But now that Fat Tuesday has come and gone, only the best beads are kept and put away for next year, and the king cake is reduced to nothing but crumbs, it becomes evident that we need a shift in focus; hence the tradition of Lent.

Lent is a 40 day time frame within the church that begins on Ash Wednesday and continues for 40 days, ending on the Thursday before Easter Sunday. The significance of the 40 days is that it is meant to mirror the 40 days that Jesus spent praying and fasting in the wilderness.   It is a call to draw close to God by prayer and fasting.

But what if you find yourself not knowing what to pray or how to pray? Then you are not alone! In Luke 11:1 the disciples asked of Jesus this very thing: “Lord, teach us to pray.”

He (Jesus) said to them, “Whenever you pray, say:

Father (a term of intimacy, such as “Daddy”),

Your name be honored as holy (a call to worship Him as the holy God that He is).

Your kingdom come (a desire for God to receive the glory that is due Him).

Give us each day our daily bread (a request for the necessities of life, not luxuries).

And forgive us our sins (suggests a regular need for confession of our sins),

for we ourselves also forgive everyone in debt to us (reminds us we are forgiven only because of God’s grace in Christ and we should extend that grace to others).

And do not bring us into temptation,” (being aware of anything that might cause us to sin).

Luke 11:2-4 (HCSB) and the New American Commentary

In his book Prayer: The Great Adventure, Dr. David Jeremiah notes, “Jesus never taught his disciples how to preach, only how to pray. To know how to speak to God is more important than how to speak to man. Jesus loves to teach us how to pray.”

So, as you enter this Lenten season, be encouraged in your prayer life by exercising Jesus’ example. Remember that prayer is simply communication with your heavenly daddy. Talk to Him as you would someone you know personally, give Him the praise and honor that He is due, and allow Him to cleanse you of your sins. For His is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.