Well, have no fear, because yesterday I was treated to a total #YOHBT moment that simply boggles my mind! It was definitely one of those "Did that just happen!?!" kind of moments.
Now, let me first preface my comments by stating that the guilty party is a man that I respect. I respect him as an unashamed Christian business owner in a highly competitive, secular world. I also respect his humility and sincerity.
However, as we've noted repeatedly here in this forum, sincerity does not automatically equal Biblical truth, because you can be quite sincere and be sincerely wrong about so much at the same time.
Such is the case with this individual.
I think I've mentioned several times before how frustrating it is on most days to have to sit through our daily team meetings each morning that begin with the most bizarre prayers "In Jesus' Name!"
I think it's actually impossible to "Put The Best Construction On Things" when so many of the statements that are made are a complete and utter perversion of God's Word.
Take, for instance, yesterday morning's prayer.
Our company is currently going through a significant national expansion. One of the things we know we need, but just haven't purchased yet as we field various bids, are additional Conveyor Belts for the products that we manufacture.
Would you believe me if I told you that this particular person attempted to use the Lord's Prayer to justify his request for his own financial and worldly advantage?
Not that it's "wrong" per se to ever pray about finances and/or work related issues...but everyday? The Pragmatic Progressive Christian will probably say that I'm making a fuss out of nothing since it is a work environment and so, naturally, the prayers each and every morning would most likely be about things that affect the company.
Before you side with the Pragmatic Progressive Christian though, perhaps you should prayerfully consider the content of the prayer in question first and then draw your own conclusions.
Ready for this?
"Father...we know that You have a surplus of Conveyor Belts in heaven and we just pray to bring them down to us here on earth, because Your Word says, 'on earth, as it is in heaven'...and we just pray that you would keep us all in the fog of God too."
What!?! Uh, come again?
Yep. "We know that you have a surplus of Conveyor Belts in heaven" he prayed.
I'm sorry, but is this something that was confirmed by one of those kids who died and went to heaven and then came back to tell us about it? I'm only asking because I don't seem to recall reading that the Creator of All Things needs Conveyor Belts in heaven for anything much less that He's just stockpiling them so that He can give them away to those like my boss who offer only the best and most "sincerely righteous" prayers.
What about the whole "fog of God" business too? What in the world is that all about? Chapter and verse please? Oh, wait a minute! Given the context of the prayer, I betcha he was referring to the new trend that's all the rage in the "Word of Faith" and "Name-It-Claim-It" Christian circles these days where "fog" actually refers to living in the "F.O.G." as in living in the "Favor of God."
Still, aren't we always living in the so-called "F.O.G." by the mere fact that Jesus' righteousness is imputed to us all as if it were our very own? How much more of "God's favor" do we really need than that?
And doesn't such thinking wrongfully presume that Christians should never suffer or face trials of any kind in this life so long as they know how to pray the right way to "unlock" this so-called "F.O.G." they speak of?
Ugh. #YOHBT indeed. See what I mean?
Ok, so if I was going to try to "Put The Best Construction On This Prayer," I suppose I'd have to say that this is simply a man who wants to give credit to the Lord for all things including any deal he receives on the Conveyor Belts we're looking for and need for our plant.
Fine. That's a good and noble approach to life as well as the proper attitude for a Christian to have I think.
Even so, that doesn't excuse us from taking the holy Word of God and ripping out of context here while twisting it from the truth there just so that it can suit our own purposes in the moment!
Yes, it might sound good, but we should be wary of things that tickle Old Adam's ears, shouldn't we?
2 Timothy 4:3-4 (ESV) 3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.
What gets me the most is that this is not the first, but the second time in as many months that this same person has completely and directly destroyed and downplayed the Lord's Prayer -- a prayer that our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, Himself taught us and instructed us to pray!
The first time, he used THE VERY SAME PORTION OF THE LORD'S PRAYER ("Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven") except that time he used it to criticize me for opening the meeting with the Lord's Prayer when it was my turn that day, because "we are called to action, not inaction, and if we have a 'Thy kingdom come' mentality all the time, then we'll spend too much time just waiting for the kingdom to come rather than doing all the things we should be doing to make it come down here on earth!"
Again, I suppose I could continue to try to "Put The Best Construction On Things" and assume that he had 2 Thessalonians in mind when he said that to me in front of everyone else, but I don't want to be naive here either.
Is it too much to ask for Christians of all denominations to at least agree that we should revere the Lord's Prayer? Open up Martin Luther's Small Catechism some time (and then follow it up by checking out the Large Catechism too) and gain a better understanding of what Christ was teaching us when He gave us that prayer.
Here's a small taste that focuses on the parts that keep coming up for some reason during the prayers at these morning meetings...
The Second Petition
"Thy kingdom come."
What does this mean? Answer: The kingdom of God comes indeed without our prayer, of itself; but we pray in this petition that it may come unto us also.
How is this done? Answer: When our heavenly Father gives us His Holy Spirit, so that by His grace we believe His holy Word and lead a godly life here in time and yonder in eternity.
The Third Petition
"Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven"
What does this mean? Answer: The good and gracious will of God is done indeed without our prayer; but we pray in this petition that it may be done among us also.
How is this done? Answer: When God breaks and hinders every evil counsel and will which would not let us hallow the name of God nor let His kingdom come, such as the will of the devil, the world, and our flesh; but strengthens and keeps us steadfast in His Word and in faith unto our end. This is His gracious and good will.
Pretty simple and straightforward, huh?
So then why do we insist on complicating things all the time?
For emphasis, here's a fitting excerpt from what the Large Catechism has to say about "The Third Petition" of the Lord's Prayer ("Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven") that I think sums things up for us...
62] For no one believes how the devil opposes and resists them, and cannot suffer that any one teach or believe aright. And it hurts him beyond measure to suffer his lies and abominations, that have been honored under the most specious pretexts of the divine name, to be exposed, and to be disgraced himself, and, besides, be driven out of the heart, and suffer such a breach to be made in his kingdom. Therefore he chafes and rages as a fierce enemy with all his power and might, and marshals all his subjects, and, in addition, enlists the world and our own flesh as his allies.
63] For our flesh is in itself indolent and inclined to evil, even though we have accepted and believe the Word of God. The world, however, is perverse and wicked; this he incites against us, fans and stirs the fire, that he may hinder and drive us back, cause us to fall, and again bring us under his power.
64] Such is all his will, mind, and thought, for which he strives day and night, and never rests a moment, employing all arts, wiles, ways, and means whichever he can invent.
Is it too much to ask for us to S-T-O-P praying these kinds of perverted prayers?
Don't we realize that we will have to give an account for them someday (Matthew 12:36) and that we better be very careful about the things we proclaim to others as Gospel truth too (James 3:1)? Now might be the perfect time to remind ourselves why prayer is not always a good thing.
My dear friends, please let me know if you've had similar experiences with family members, friends, and co-workers so that I don't start to feel like maybe I'm the weird one for being the only one here at work who thinks this kind of prayer is nonsense, un-Biblical, and sinful.
More importantly, please pray for me to remain steadfast in the faith and that the people I work with would have their hearts and minds, eyes and ears, opened by the Holy Spirit to the truth about God and His Word.
In a Lutheran layman's terms, sorry, but I can't see the Conveyor Belts in heaven because I'm lost in the fog fueled by false doctrine.
NOTE: I'm not a called and ordained minister of God's Word and Sacraments. I'm a layman or a Christian, Candy-Making, Husband, Father, Friend who lives in the "City of Good Neighbors" here on the East Coast. To be more specific, and relevant to the point I want to make with this note, I'm also a newly converted Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism a little over a year ago. That being said, please contact me ASAP if you believe that any of my "old beliefs" seem to have crept their way into any of the material you see published here, and especially if any of the content is inconsistent with our Confessions and Lutheran doctrine (in other words, if it's not consistent with God's Word, which our Confessions merely summarize and point us back to) so that I can correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray (James 3:1). Finally, please be aware that you might also discover that some of the earlier pieces I wrote on this blog back in 2013 definitely fall into that category since I was a "Lutheran-In-Name-Only" at the time and was completely oblivious to the fact that a Christian "Book of Concord" even existed (Small/Large Catechism? What's that!?!). In addition, there are some entries that are a little "out there" so-to-speak since the subject matter was also heavy influenced by those old beliefs of mine. I know that now and I'm still learning. Anyway, I decided to leave those published posts up on this website and in cyberspace only because we now have this disclaimer, and only to demonstrate the continuing work of Christ and the Holy Spirit in my life (Hebrews 12:2; Philippians 1:6). Most importantly, please know that any time I engage in commenting on and/or interpreting a specific portion of the holy Scriptures, it will always closely follow the verse-by-verse notes from my Lutheran Study Bible and/or include references to the Book of Concord unless otherwise noted. Typically, I defer to what other Lutheran Pastors have already preached and taught about such passages since they are the called and ordained shepherds of our souls here on earth. Finally, I'm going to apologize ahead of time for the length of most entries. I'm well aware that blogs should be short, sweet, and to the point, but I've never been one to follow the rules when it comes to writing. Besides, this website is more like a dude's diary in the sense that everything I write about and share publicly isn't always what's "popular" or "#trending" at the time, but is instead all the things that I'm studying myself at the moment. For better or for worse, these posts tend to be much longer than most blog entries you'll find elsewhere only because I try to pack as much info as possible into a single piece so that I can refer to it again and again over time if I need to (and so that it can be a valuable resource for others -- if possible, a "One-Stop-Shop" of sorts). Thank you for stopping by and thank you in advance for your time, help, and understanding. Grace and peace to you and yours!