Monthly Archives: September 2016

Reflections on Luke 11 – LORD, TEACH US TO PRAY. [#6]

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(2) ..hallowed be your name, [continued]

It is difficult to pass on without wrestling to address this odd, archaic word just a little more.

“These hallowed halls…” Yes, that is about the only real life instance I remember of the word in use, as best I can recall in reference to some old and stately university building, steeped in history, feeling like it was still inhabited by those great scientists of old; Newton, Boyle, Lord Kelvin….

And it helped me to reflect on a connection between the word in Luke 11 and my memory of it in recent use, one in particular.

What effect did these ‘hallowed halls’ have on those passing through them? Well obviously reverence, respect, and a sense of peace and calm. Chewing gum on the floor and graffiti on the walls would be rare.

Now, if walking the corridors of an old institution could impart such emotions, would not a discipline of daily waking up to worship our creator instil in us a sense of calm and peace to carry us through the coming day? I sit here looking out the window at stately trees, late winter mist clearing in the dawns light, hundreds of birds greeting the day with joyful sounds. Is there not more to hallow there than in that musty old building?

Indeed ‘hallowing God’s name’ each day grounds us in these characteristics of reverence and respect, and prevents us from the greatest danger of all, becoming self-referencing. It is the characteristic of being ‘self-referencing’ that defines the anarchist, the destroyer of peace.

Yes, rather than being some selfish demand of God, it is ‘for us.’ As Matthew Henry says in his marvellous commentary “That man is a brute, is a monster, that never prays, that never gives glory to his Maker, nor feels his favour, nor owns his dependence upon him.”

Lord, hallowed be your name today….

Do not be surprised if the world hates you.

hate-1680x1050That’s right, don’t be surprised, alarmed, frightened or perplexed.

Nearly 2,000 years ago the ageing disciple John was writing a marvellously encouraging letter to his followers, full of pleas to love, and to have great hope. The letter bursts with the joy and hope we have in Christ. We are told again and again in various ways to ‘rest in Christ.’

And then, here in the middle of this letter, the comment, ‘Don’t be surprised if the world hates you.’ And then he moves right back to his exhortations to love one another and to abide/rest in Him.

What struck me reading this verse (3:13) is how fleeting this reference is, how incidental. That’s all he gives this fact that we so often agonise over, wringing our hands over every new evidence of ‘persecution of the church’ especially within the arena of our local and state governments.

No, John simply says ‘don’t be surprised by this hatred’ and goes right back to encouraging us to be tellers and demonstrators of the good news, the only real good news around.

I think that itself is worth us reflecting on. Am I exuding the joy of the good news? or am I exhibiting anxiety and peevishness that the ‘world is winning the culture war?’ You know, regardless of who is winning the so-called culture war, our job is still simple; to be and to tell the good news.

If you haven’t lately, read John’s stirring letters. Let them fill you afresh with confidence, peace, assurance.

Reflections on Luke 11 – LORD, TEACH US TO PRAY. [#5]

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(2) ..hallowed be your name,

This is something fascinating isn’t it? It’s actually worded as a ‘petition.’ Now why would Jesus be asking us to pray this? Isn’t this selfish of God? Isn’t it a ‘grovelling’ kind of thing to be praying? After all if God is so great, isn’t he above any petty misuse of his name by us?

So what is this all about? Well, I’m no theologian, and having read some of the theological stuff on this petition I’m still not entirely satisfied by most of the explanations and conclusions. That’s probably my problem, not theirs, mind you. But one thing sticks out for me after a month of chewing the cud on this prayer.

Our first thought is that justice and peace on Earth would be more vital things to pray about. We humans don’t immediately connect that with this ‘hallowed be your name,’ UNTIL we stop and reflect how crazy this world is becoming, how unmoored from the old but vital values (virtue, respect, honour, justice, dignity of life) we have become, BECAUSE we have thrown the mooring cables to God’s rock of stability and meaning overboard. If there is not a holy and righteous creator, what point of any appeal to man to holiness and righteousness? And there’s the point!

Only if God is real, only if he is holy, only if he is equally omnipotent, loving, AND holy does life then demand to be lived through these values of virtue, kindness, justice etc. Virtues that are subjective and mirages, whimsy; virtues grounded in God’s omnipotence and holiness are gripping and persuasive. Indeed, our mission, our ‘good news’ revolves around the hallowing of God’s name.

I find in these four words also a kind of ‘falling in behind God’ in the request, “Lord, make your name holy. And help me to treat it as holy, and extoll it so!”

“But Robbie, that might be true for you…”

truth

More than once they were the words of my mother in response to my side of a discussion.

I understand that what she was really saying was that ‘that is your opinion.’ However something deeper is happening in society today. We have dislodged the word truth from its former granite plinth. The very word itself is now propositional, something ‘we’ create or define in accordance with our feelings.

What do you think? What is ‘truth?’

Reflections on Luke 11 – LORD, TEACH US TO PRAY. [#4]

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(2)  He said to them, “When you pray, say: “‘Father,

Oh dear, what worlds of wisdom, what depths of grace, what infinity of assurance, what weight of love there is in this one word from our Saviour.

Many years ago now I was on an interstate bus, overnight. The young lady sitting next to me turned out to be a Jehovah’s Witness. And she was on fire to evangelise, me being the target. I was tired and weary and not long into my own life of understanding the gospel. I recall so vividly her excitement in asking me if I knew ‘God’s REAL name.’ This young lady couldn’t contain her excitement in sharing this wonderful news. God’s real name was Jehovah, as revealed in Old Testament texts.

Today, in that same circumstance I KNOW what my response would be; “Yes, that’s wonderful knowledge, and there is much to learn in understanding that Old Testament name. But you want to know an even better secret? Jesus came and revealed a BRAND NEW name for God to the world. After thousands of years of calling God Yahweh/Jehovah do you know the radical new and special name he revealed? The name that will change forever how you relate to God once you know and understand it?  ….It’s ‘Father’”

Father! What amazement must the disciples have felt. A whole nation for thousands of years relating to God in a word not dared to be even spoken. Mystery, a veil between, trembling at the foot of the mountain still, and Jesus prays ‘Father.’ WOW! A new world has begun; the gates to Heavens grace are flung open in the sound of this one word – Father.

Reflections on Luke 11 – LORD, TEACH US TO PRAY. [#3]

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 (1) When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.” 

I want to pause and take a step back for an overview before looking at the detail.

One benefit of staying with a passage and soaking in it is the clarity brought to ones mind.

Here in this exchange Jesus is asked a wonderful thing, ‘teach us to pray.’ And in his response is clearly in two parts: verses 2-4 where he tells them/us WHAT to pray for, and verses 5-13 where he tells them/us HOW to pray. Yes, it really is that simple. If we remember this clear fact of the passage we are saved from much error, much confusion born of reading verses out of context. When reading verses 5-13 we often forget that Jesus has JUST told us WHAT to be praying for J

Before my next post feel free to read Luke 11 yourself with this clear framework in mind. It really is illuminating.