Well, it is the beginning of a new year and I am extremely excited with what the Lord has in store for us. For those of you who subscribe to my blog and are regular readers, listeners and supporters of Fairly Spiritual, I want to let you know officially about my big book release coming April 20th, 2021. My latest book is entitled Posting Peace: Why Social Media Divides Us and What We Can Do About It. The book is being released at an extremely strategic time in our nation and our world. I examine how social media changes what we communicate and the way we communicate. Through extensive research and careful study, I examine many of the ways internet communication leads to polarization and division. I also call us to embrace the radical ministry of peacemaking in response to our destructive online world. I’d love for you to read this book. I will be sharing more in the future, but for now, please pray for me and for this book to get into the hands of people who need it. Here is a link to preorder. Much love to each of you.
Every year, Craig DesJardins provides me with a new Thematic Bible Reading Plan to share with my Fairly Spiritual friends. Here is the 2021 edition. Feel free to use this plan and to share it with others. Please make sure you credit Craig DesJardins for all his hard work. Enjoy and God bless!
A very personal show where Doug laments the current condition of American Christianity in regards to politics, Covid, and race. Pretty much a lament and nothing more. The hope is you don’t feel so alone or you gain a better understanding of those who don’t feel like you. Peace. (Listen Here)
In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen. Matthew 6:9-13
Very familiar scriptures here. Most of us recognize these scriptures as the Lord’s Prayer. I bet some of us can recite these words from memory, and have even leaned on them at times for needed comfort and solace. We might regard this particular prayer or even Jesus’ model of prayer as simple. Simple words. Simple prayer.
In a way, they are simple words. Simple and singular in focus—a singular focus that bonds us to our Christian ancestors who, like us, have daily prayed for divine authority to be expressed on earth, divine provision to ease our daily need, divine forgiveness to absolve our tremendous guilt, and divine protection to overshadow our obedient faith.
But simple does not necessarily mean powerless, less effective or less important. No one believes that. In fact, we simplify all sorts of things for the very reason of drawing out and seizing on what’s most important, powerful and effective. We simplify equations in order to grapple with manageable figures. We simplify scriptures in order to propose life principles. We simplify instructions in order to expedite workflow. We rightly simplify all of life’s enormities in order to take on more, make room for other, or to simply move on.
And here is the point (the point of contrast, that is). So often we simplify things in order to take on, make room for, or simply move on. But that is not what Jesus does here in teaching us how to pray. His words are simple, but his focus is central; his manner of prayer an everlasting process of abiding in God. Jesus does not teach us to ask for more, believe for more, hope for more. Rather he teaches us to seek, like himself, what is already ours in the Father and to enduringly abide in that reality.
As familiar as these scriptures are (and ritualistic in their recitation), we are no less indebted to their efficiency in bringing us back to the foundation of our faith. Willful, obedient, surrender. From here onward, we need not be frightened or discouraged in approaching our heavenly Father… doesn’t “he know already know what we need?” Matthew 6. Indeed, he does. That is just how important a matter this is.
“It is one thing to view the land of peace from a wooded ridge; quite another to tread the road that leads there.” -St. Augustine [excerpt from Surprised By Joy by C.S. Lewis]
“I have dwelt too long with those who hate peace. I am for peace; but when I speak, they are for war.” -Psalm 120
The bible gives us many examples of either a command, a charge, even a plea for the people of God (i.e. the Christian) to pursue peace. Or, if peace is not readily found, to make peace. In fact, we are to make peace when others won’t. Jesus calls this endeavor blessed—”blessed are the peacemakers,” he says. Matthew 5
Having said this, there are also a great many examples in the bible of persons who made peace their genuine goal and suffered mightily for it. A sobering contrast. The one who makes for peace typically receives very little of it, typically receives the constant nag of scrutiny, cynicism, mischaracterization, and even insult. Yet again, Jesus calls you blessed. That is way of the Christ; what some might describe as foolishness. “Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows,” he says. “But take heart, for I have overcome the world.” John 16
There is nothing foolish about the miracles of God experienced most noticeably by others than when you make peace your true goal. They may not receive it. They may outright reject it. May even even harm you in return. But they will not deceived. Peace is that kind of offering that is unmistakably apparent. Much more shrewd are her preparations for an unshakeable bridge—forgiveness, acceptance, trust, compassion, pure affection. As for these, time will tell. But first comes peace, either readily present or something born of your great effort. “For the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who cultivate peace.” James 3