We so often buy into lies. One that is perpetuated from all kinds of perspectives is the idea that I need to get my ducks in a row before I come to God or become part of a church. This deception comes from the enemy but it is also tragically perpetuated in one way or another by many that are inside the Church as well. I love the following words from Martin Luther.
Some say, “I would feel better about God hearing my prayer if I were more worthy and lived a better life.” I simply answer: If you don’t want to pray before you feel that you are worthy or qualified, then you will never pray again. Prayer must not be based on or depend on your personal worthiness or the quality of the prayer itself but on the unchanging truth of God’s promise. If the prayer is based on itself, or on anything else besides God’s promise, then it’s a false prayer that deceives you – even if your heart was breaking with intense devotion, and you were weeping drops of blood.
We pray because we are unworthy to pray. Our prayers are heard precisely because we believe that we are unworthy. We become worthy to pray when we risk everything on God’s faithfulness alone.
So go ahead and feel unworthy. But know in your heart that it’s a thousand times more important to honor God’s truthfulness. Yes, everything depends on this alone. Don’t turn His faithful promise into a lie by your doubts. For your worthiness doesn’t help you and neither does your unworthiness hinder you. A lack of faith is what condemns you, but confidence in God is what makes you worthy.
I humbly summarize Luther’s comments in this way: Quit trying to be the center of your prayers. Look to God and God alone as you cry out and as you celebrate!
This Sunday we will be looking at Luke 11:5-13; 18:1-8 to consider the transforming power of prayer. Prayer is a living relational gift from our God. We come and God does exactly as needed – always! And He does better than we can see or imagine. We may not see it clearly but by faith we receive it.
Trusting God’s answers,
Good morning to all of you from campsite #20 at Bunker Hills Regional Park in Anoka County. It has been a great day so far that began with early morning coffee followed by a buttermilk pancake breakfast. Once we finished washing the dishes we went for a 5k walk around the park that was absolutely spectacular. For me it doesn’t get much better than experiencing God’s creation with Barb – that is the good life!
You may or may not be aware that this park is about 1 mile as the crow flies from where I grew up. The area has changed greatly in some ways but in others it takes me right back to being a kid again. I regale Barb with story after story of things that happened in “that house” or “that field” or on “that farm”. It is so fun to remember and to enjoy once again the blessings of my childhood. [In our newsletter, The View, you can see] some pictures we took very near our campsite of a typical field I played in as a little boy. These fields would go on mile after mile and would lead to one adventure after another. On our walk this morning, I learned that the proper name for the fields of my childhood is “Oak Savanna” and I think that is a pretty good descriptor. With that in mind, from now on I will use the fancy name since I am such a fancy guy.
As I consider our theme for Sunday’s questions from Jesus regarding His Lordship, I am reminded that He is the Lord of all my days; by “all” I mean every single one. Each of those fun days I romped and ran through all those Oak Savannas, my teen years finding my way or maybe losing my way at times at Roosevelt Jr. High, chasing stuff that didn’t deliver much as I got older, having a family and now going through life with you at Oak Hill, Jesus has been Lord.
I don’t make Jesus Lord or keep Him from becoming Lord – He just is! The question for each of us today is: Are we aware of His lordship and are we enjoying His reign in our lives? Jesus is the Lord of all and by definition that also means YOU – so will you confess Him as Lord or fight an ultimately losing battle against His Kingdom’s expansion?
Jesus is Lord!
We are all guided by something or someone.
I woke up Sunday morning to the tragic carnage that was being reported from Orlando. Over the upcoming days, I have no doubt that many details will come out as to how and why this happened. We will learn about the gunman, the cultural context and we will hear about many that lost their lives.
I have no doubt that as people try to prevent this type of tragedy from happening again they will come up with solutions that will center around gun-control, tolerance, ISIS, education and a dozen other additional places to find blame. Now, I believe that all of these areas need to be processed as our elected officials and our government try to make our country safe for everyone. I am thankful for the many people that lead, legislate and serve here in the United States, but my expectations are exceeding low for a true and lasting all-encompassing peace. I will continue to applaud the efforts that stand against injustice, evil and tyranny but I find only one allegiance that really solves the main problem.
Who guides you today?
Who are you following and why?
This Sunday’s theme will be focused around some questions from Jesus regarding discipleship. What is discipleship anyway? A disciple is “one who believes in and helps disseminate the teachings of a master” or is “an active adherent to a movement or a philosophy”. The world and its’ inhabitants are all disciples of something or someone. It can be an ideology, a religion, a teacher, a lifestyle or about a million other things. How we live and make our decisions is based largely on being a disciple of…
I propose that we, who are disciples of Jesus Christ, are possessors of the love and the truth that will set the world right – but only one life at a time. There will come a day when ALL will be right, but that will only happen when Jesus comes again. In the meantime, we follow Jesus in the “now but not yet” of God’s Kingdom. We are fully saved and completely forgiven but we continue to struggle personally, relationally and contextually as we live out our days.
Today we are called to recognize that our lives will be filled with both joy and sorrow, laughter and tears, elation and disappointment. We are citizens in two realms. First off, we live in a physical kingdom with geographical borders, taxes and capitals. Secondly and primarily, we live in a spiritual kingdom that is ruled by Jesus the Christ. He is the King of Kings and because of that He rules our lives as we live in two kingdoms. It can seem complex at times, but He will never fail and His Word is always true – even when it isn’t appreciated by others or even by us.
Join me this Sunday considering the incredibly good news that comes with Jesus’ aggressive declaration and invitation from Luke 14:33 that “those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.” Jesus must really think He is a big deal!
He is THE Big Deal,
Do you have a storm story? I bet there may be a few to choose from in your memory banks. Whether it be from when you were a little kid or even a present day memory, storms are just a fact of life here in the Midwest.
Storms can be both unexpected and even a bit scary. I can recall a time from my life that took place just a few years ago in July of 2012. My wife and I were camping in Itasca State Park for our 1 year wedding anniversary. The weather had been unbearably hot and humid; the perfect recipe for a big storm. I can remember finishing our dinner as we watched these big thunderclouds move in. Within a few minutes of cleaning up our picnic table and putting away our food, the wind started to blow. We were huddled in our tent watching the trees above us start to bend and circle from the force of the wind. Needless to say, we were not in the right place to be caught in 85 mile per hour straight line winds!
We decided our tent was probably not the safest place to be and attempted to make it to the bathrooms which were about 100 yards from our campsite. The moment we exited our tent, trees starting falling all around us. The people from the camper next to us called for us to take shelter in their camper. We made it inside as the trees around our tent fell right where we would have been running for the bathrooms. We waited out the storm in their camper and once it ended there was not much left standing. Our tent, car, and their camper were unharmed, but the rest of the campground looked like a bulldozer had gone through the place. It was a nerve-wracking, frightening experience, but we were thankful to escape unscathed.
In moments such as that one, my faith, trust, and assurance in God are definitely put to the test. In the panic-stricken moments of the wind swirling and trees falling, the last thing on my mind was the idea that we were going to be okay. I became paralyzed with uncertainty about what would happen, how we could fix our predicament, or how we would make it out of this storm. I probably reacted very similarly to the disciples in Luke 8 when they were caught in a terrible storm threatening to sink them and Jesus was sleeping right in the middle of the chaos. When the disciples awaken Jesus, He rebukes the wind and the waves and all is immediately calm and still.
How quickly we can lose sight of the power and presence of Jesus when storms come in our lives…and I don’t just mean the physical ones with wind and rain. Jesus shows us that He is the One in control of our circumstances, the One with the power and ability to provide for us in our times of need, and the One who is present and aware of our experiences. We can trust and be assured of His power and presence in our lives even when we go through tough times because He has proven Himself faithful.
In most conversations, one of the easiest topics to discuss would have to be family. Whether it is a parent talking about something cute or funny their child did, a child telling their friends about a family trip, or a grandparent beaming with pride over their new grandbaby, people love to talk about their families.
But what if your relationship to your own family was in question? What if someone asked you how you knew for sure that you truly belonged to your family? That would definitely be a weird question to consider, but think about how you might respond to them. What is at the core of our belonging to our family? Maybe a physical resemblance test would suffice. Or a behavioral exam. Perhaps an IQ test, DNA test, or some other scientific means of proving that your relationship within your family was indeed sure. While indeed many of these ways would probably give you the positive results you would be looking for, how would you respond if the question had a more spiritual tone? What if instead of questioning your relationship or belonging to your physical family, the question turned to your relationship to God’s family? Would a DNA test, or physical resemblance test, or behavioral examination do the trick there?
As we continue in our summer series at Oak Hill, we see that Jesus not only has some questions about Himself, but also His followers. This week we will be looking at a question regarding how we relate and belong to God’s family. Spoiler Alert! It doesn’t have anything to do with DNA or how well we might think we act or behave like God. No, our only connection to even having any sort of relationship or sense of belonging to God’s family is found only in and through Jesus Christ. We can live in certainty that God not only desires to have relationship with us but has called us to be His children through what His Son Jesus has done on our behalf on the cross. It is because of Jesus that we can stand with assurance in faith knowing that we have a place in God’s family. What a humbling and amazing feeling! Now that’s a family story worth sharing!
Pastor Nick Mundis