It seems like I was just writing about the truths about terrorism and tragedy.
Now, here we are again, only this time it seems like this world is suddenly spiraling out of control and that everyone has completely lost their minds!
From the Orlando terror attack, to "Brexit" in Europe, to the ISIS attack on Istanbul's airport, to the continuing support of abortion, to the political debate and scandal involving Hillary Clinton and the U.S. Government, and now the shootings and violence in Louisiana, Minnesota, and Texas (and everything else in between), I'm in a praying sort of mood since it's all I have left in response to such sinful madness day-after-day.
In fact, it prompted me to write the following on my Facebook page earlier...
This week's shootings and violence in Louisiana, Minnesota, and now Dallas, TX reminded me of some comforting words issued by Rev. Matthew C. Harrison that we need to prayerfully consider even though they were made almost 2 years ago in response to similar events in Ferguson, MO.
In short, "The problems this nation faces are deep and humanly unsolvable. ... The answers to our challenges lay in a two realms: state and church. ... This nation is sick unto death. The church has the answer: Jesus Christ. Jesus is neither white, or black. Jesus is the eternal answer. Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy." You can click on the link for his full statement, which is still applicable today in light of these recent tragic events.
PRAYER: "God of life and love, You sent Your Son into our world of pain to love and teach us to love. Bring an end to all violence and lead us to honor and respect each other. Comfort those who mourn, those who are injured, and those whose lives are consumed with fear. Protect all our nation's citizens from violence, both the civilians and law enforcement. Give all of them wisdom and courage in their vocations. Give us Your peace. In Jesus’s name. Amen."
Or, to put it another way, here's a more succinct statement...
It is a strange irony, but in a world drunk on violence, it is only on the cross of violence that there is hope for peace in our world. For on that cross is the God who fills the cavernous wounds of humanity with his grace. He pulls us away from racism, from bloodlust, from hatred, from the vortex of evil to carry us into a freedom that is found by dying and rising with Him.
At the heart of the church is an icon of violence: the crucifix. On that cross, God cried out and bled out for the life of the world -- the very world that killed him. And it is that cross that the church must carry into the Pulse nightclub, to the convenience store parking lot in Baton Rouge, inside the car of Castile, and onto the streets of Dallas.
-- Chad Bird
This is most certainly true.
Truth is, the world will always seem hopeless (because it is; John 16:33), but we will always have hope in this life, because we "do not trust in princes, in mortal man, in whom there is no salvation" (Psalm 146:3), but place our faith in the "Prince of Peace" Himself (Isaiah 9:6), and He has already "overcome the world" (John 16:33).
Yes, I'm in a praying kind of mood today.
2 Chronicles 7:14 (ESV) if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.
So, with that in mind, please indulge me as a share a series of prayers from my Lutheran Book of Prayer for us to recite in such uncertain times as these.
PRAYER FOR A TIME OF NATIONAL CRISIS
Heavenly Father, I come to Your throne of mercy, bowed down and wearied by the weight of suffering and disaster visited upon our country. I beg You to protect this nation in our hour of need. I acknowledge my trespasses before You and do not deny either my own transgressions of Your holy Law or the sins of other citizens of my homeland. We are laden with iniquity, but You call us to Your forgiveness, salvation, hope, and life. Turn the hearts and minds of all to You, that they might find peace through the cleansing of Jesus' blood. Let me not be confounded or dismayed, so that I, a child of Your grace, may courageously speak to this needy world of the hope that is within me. Make me an instrument of Your peace in a world of conflict, a witness to the power of faith in a world lost in unbelief, and a bearer of the joy that overcomes the sorrow of a fallen world. Grant to the leaders of this nation and all the nations of the world wise counsel, calm thinking, and unselfish aims. Amid the tumult of disaster, build Your kingdom and turn even more souls to Yourself. Because of Your grace, we are not altogether lost but find peace and forgiveness in You. O Lord, give me the grace to seek You, trust You, and confess You; in Jesus' name. Amen.
PRAYER FOR THE DEFENSE OF OUR COUNTRY
O almighty, everlasting, loving and protective Father, I humbly come before You to ask that Your protective arms enfold me and the citizens of this nation. As we live our lives, we daily hear about the tragic results of war and the threats that are uttered against our nation and against us. I beg You, dear Father, to hear my prayers as You have promised and calm my fearful and trembling heart and mind. Everyday, I hear and read of threats to the security and stability of this nation. As You have said, there will always be threats of war and rumors of war. We also now hear the threat of attack of every form and of every kind upon our children and upon us. These threats, these rumors, and these acts of evil cause me to be afraid. Lord, I pray that You would not allow me to be confused or confounded by those who promote terror and massive destruction and harm upon Your people. But I pray that You would, through the Holy Spirit, increase and strengthen my faith, that I would always turn to You, my refuge and my strength. Be with those whom You have raised up to serve and protect us. Grant them the resolve and the commitment to perform their duties so as to promote peace and safety and security for me as well as for all my fellow citizens. I pray, dear Father, that You and Your holy angels would defend us from attack, confound those who would deprive us of our freedom, and thwart the evil efforts of those who intend to cause pain, suffering, and death by their cowardly acts of assassination, humiliation, intimidation, murder, and fear. Dear heavenly Father, You have promised to love, to protect, and to provide for Your people. If it be according to Your holy will, keep me safe in a world that is far from safe, faithful in a world that knows little of true faith, and secure in this world that knows no real security apart from You, until that time that You call me to be with You for all eternity. I boldly ask these blessings in the holy name of Christ Jesus, my Lord and my Savior. Amen.
PRAYER FOR GOVERNMENT
Lord God, as I pray for all who are in authority, I thank You especially for the form of government given us in our beloved country. Give me the grace with my fellow citizens to value the officers and the magistrates of our government as those sent by You. Instill in me that respect and honor that is due them. Lord, endow them with wisdom for their several duties, with a spirit of sacrifice for the common welfare, with mercy and justice, with uprightness and kindliness. Correct the evils of selfishness, greed, a vain desire for honor, or abuse of power among us as well as in the other governments of the world. Grant that the true purposes of government may prevail, safeguarding peace and prosperity, so that we may live soberly and uprightly in Your sight and have opportunity to tell of You and Your kingdom. These petitions I direct to You because in Jesus I know You as my Father and Lord. Amen.
PRAYER FOR PUBLIC SAFETY ORGANIZATIONS AND WORKERS
In accordance with Your Word, O God, my Savior, hear the prayers I pray for all those in authority. As You have ordained these powers so that I might live a quiet, peaceable, and godly life in this present age, prosper them in their blessed vocation as police, fire, and emergency medical officers. As they protect, protect them, O Lord, from all harm and danger. Keep them safe in their work. Give them success in preserving the life and property that You have graciously given to us. May they find joy in performing the service You have given them to do. May they be ever mindful of Your presence with them, even in their darkest hour. Comfort their loved ones who share them with us and who weep when they weep. When they are weak, give them strength. When they are afraid, give them courage. When they are in doubt, grant them wisdom from above. When they have sinned, grant them repentance and true faith in Christ, who made the ultimate sacrifice in order to save us all from sin and eternal death. Grant them the peace of Christ. Amen.
Whether you chose to say only one of those prayers, none, or all of them, can we at least all agree to replace #BlackLivesMatter, #WhiteLivesMatter, and #BlueLivesMatter with #AllLivesMatter from now on?
We're all sinners and we're all gonna die someday (Psalm 51:5; Hebrews 9:27).
However, because you "matter" to God, "God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that everyone who believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16).
In a Lutheran layman's terms, because all lives matter, everyone needs to hear the true Gospel as opposed to the so-called "Social Gospel" right now, and they need to be reminded repeatedly that Jesus Christ was crucified for the sins of all mankind (yes, "all" is pretty inclusive, wouldn't you say?) so that we would be forgiven and could receive His free gift of salvation through repentance and faith.
That's all that really "matters" in this life anyway, don't you agree?
NOTE: Please understand that I'm not a called and ordained minister of God's Word and Sacraments. I'm a layman or just a regular Christian, Corporate Recruiter, Husband, Father, Friend who lives in the "City of Good Neighbors" here on the East Coast. As another Christian Blogger once wrote, "Please do not see this blog as me attempting to 'publicly teach' the faith, but view it as an informal Public Journal of sorts about my own experiences and journey, and if any of my notes here help you in any way at all, then I say, 'Praise the Lord!' but please do double check them against the Word of God and with your own Pastor." To be more specific, and relevant to the point I want to make with this disclaimer/note, please understand that I'm a relatively new convert to Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism a little more than 3 years ago now. 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 repeatedly point us back to over and over again) so that I can correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray (James 3:1). Also, please be aware that you might also discover that some of the earlier/older pieces I wrote for this blog back in 2013 definitely fall into that "Old Evangelical Adam" category (and they don't have a disclaimer like this) 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!?!). This knowledge of the Lutheran basics was completely foreign to me even though I was baptized, confirmed, and married in an LCMS church! So, 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 they are not blasphemous/heretical, because I 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 footnotes 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 both past and present have already preached and taught about such passages since they are the called and ordained under-shepherds of our souls here on earth. Finally, I'm going to apologize ahead of time for the length of most entries (this disclaimer/note is a perfect example of what I mean! haha). 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 "Christian 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. Feel free to comment/email me at any time. Grace and peace to you and yours!