|New Book now Available|
Here is an anthology of over 1100 brief prayers and thought-starters, for each day of the year, with almost 400 original prayers by Bruce Prewer.
Included is both a subject index and an index of authors-- an ecumenical collection of about 300 different sources.
| Title: Brief Prayers for Busy People.|
Author: Bruce D Prewer
Available from Australian Church Resources,
web site www.acresources.com.au
or by order from your local book shop
or online on amazon.
Mark 9:30-37..... (Sermon 1: “To Be The Greatest.”)
James 3:13– 4:3, 7-8a.....
Proverbs 31:10-31..... (Sermon 2: “Perfect Match’”)
ENTRY INTO WORSHIP
The light of Christ Jesus be with you all.
And also with you.
Let us delight in the gift of Christ,
and on his teaching meditate by day and night.
The wisdom that flows from Beyond is uncontaminated,
peace-loving, gentle, reasonable, full of the fruits of mercy,
and sure and sincere.
Please God, open our lips!
And our mouths shall declare your praise!
We come here today not because we are clever
but because God welcomes the slow learners.
We come here not because we are wise,
but because God loves us in spite of our folly.
We come knowing that the greatest persons will be found
among those who humbly serve like Jesus did,
and that the brightest ideas and the deepest truth will come
from those who see themselves as little children in Christ’s school.
O Lord, open up our mind and our hearts
and enable our lives to declare your praise.
PRAYER OF APPROACH
Let us pray.
God of enduring certainties and sublime surprises, we gather in this house of faith to delight in your love and to worship you.
Not as fearful supplicants do we come, but as those who have been gathered into the arms of saving grace and are adopted as your own children.
We are here to say an adoring thank you, and to join the mighty choir of voices, from across the centuries and around the world, in praising you as the God of our salvation.
Through Christ Jesus, your loveliest and ultimate word to us.
CONFESSION AND ASSURANCE
My friends, confession isn’t for wimps. It is for those who can bear the light of self honesty and the pain of repentance.
Let us pray.
If our minds have been wide open to foolish innovations but half-shut or closed to the new things you wish to speak to us; Lord have mercy. / Lord have mercy.
If our hearts are occupied with the lusts and worries of the secular world, leaving little space for the sweet sanity of trust and love; Christ have mercy. / Christ have mercy.
If our souls have been taken over by pride, ingrained with stubborn errors, or subverted by a creeping indifference; Lord have mercy.../ Lord have mercy.
God of amazing grace, pity us as we thrash around in the tangled web of our own making. Forgive our sins and deliver us from captivity to anything less than your Son Jesus. May he possess us mind, heart and soul, and by that possession, let us find once more the paradoxical liberty of the children of God. Through this same Lord Jesus, our Redeemer. Amen!
I though a sinner, but by the grace of God his herald, now declare to you the forgiveness of sins and the life everlasting. If Christ shall set you free you are free indeed. Trust him and exercise your liberty as those who have been granted the keys of the city of God!
Amen! Thanks be to God!
PRAYER FOR CHILDREN
You know God,
we do get our ideas screwed up,
don’t we just?
We reckon it’s cool to come first
in sport, or games or in an argument.
We even think we are being clever
if we get the biggest slice of cake
or the largest scoop of ice cream.
You don’t see us that way, do you God?
Instead you really enjoy
watching us help some slow kid to win,
or letting others get the first slice,
or apologising we are in the wrong
instead of trying to win an argument.
We wish we could please you more, God,
but it’s not easy to change, you know that?
It’s really, really, really hard for us.
Please give us a big push when we need it,
trip us up whenever we get too cocky,
and help us to be both generous
and happy about it.
In Jesus’ name we pray.
See page 25 “Australian Psalms”
If you want to find happy people,
don’t listen to those who think evil is smart,
and never envy the easy path of sinners
nor the front row seats of the critics.
Instead find your pleasure in what God wants,
Think hard and long about Christ’s law of love
and meditate on the goodness of God
by day and by night.
Then you will be like tree
planted beside a flowing creek,
you will yield fruit in the right season,
your lush foliage shall not whither
and you will never stop growing.
Wicked people are not what you want to be;
they are like straw dust in the wind,
In God’s court they won’t stand a chance.
bad people can never feel at home
in a congregation of loving souls.
The Lord watches over every step
that loving people take;
but the wicked are losers,
they shall finally trip and perish
in the pit they have dug for themselves.
Ó B D. Prewer 2005
The good life belongs to those who can say ‘no,’
who are not sucked in by sarcasm and sin,
but get their kicks from the Lord’s law of love,
practising it by day and night.
Such people are like the vigorous vineyards
planted along the Riverland*,
immune to seasons of heat and drought
and yielding a rich vintage.
The godless don’t have it so good;
they are like bulldust in the wind.
They cannot stand up to testing times,
nor find peace among loving friends.
Truly good people have their roots in God,
but the scoffers are rootless.
The Lord smiles on the good person’s path,
but all the evil will come to ruin.
* Riverland: a verdant irrigation area along the Murray River.
© B.D. Prewer 2000
Mark 9: 33-36
One lusted to be the greatest,
to make the government his,
but when he wore the crown
he then puzzled:
“Is this all that there is?”
One strived to be the greatest,
to make her fans adore,
but when she reached her goal
she then fretted:
“Isn’t there something more?”
One jockeyed to be the greatest
of bishops in the land;
he made it by fifty five
but then wondered
why joy had turned to sand.
Now they are aged ‘has beens’
and living in the past,
yet they still have not embraced
Christ’s simple rule–
The first shall come in last.
© B.D. Prewer 2002
God our holy Friend, please put an end to our scurrying for status,
and silence our worrying about reputation.
Let us seek nothing more than doing your will as best we know how, and thanking you always no matter how bruised we are.
Please grant us the special happiness that comes from a childlike trust in your word while seeking no reward.
Empowered by your Spirit, we offer you our praise, through the grace of Jesus, our only true power and peace.
SERMON 1: TO BE THE GREATEST
* Too long! It needs to be reduced by at least a third.
When Jesus was in the house, he asked his disciples: “What were you talking about on the way here?” They were silent; for on the way they had been arguing which one of them was the greatest. Jesus sat down and asked the twelve to stand near, and he taught them: “If anyone wants to be the greatest, he must be as the least and the servant of all.” Jesus picked up a child from amongst them, took him in his arms and said: “Whoever receives one such little child in my name receives me. And whoever receives me receives not just me but the One who sent me.”
Who is the greatest?
The famed pugilist Mohamed Ali had a quick reply to that. So do a lot of other people, I suspect, if we watch the body language of many Presidents and Prime Minsters, super models and sports idols, pop stars and even some TV preachers. Self promotion was not a fault that was limited to a few a-typical egos amongst the disciples of Jesus. In fact, there are very few human beings who do not engage in it from time to time.
What makes the situation of the disciples especially poignant is that Jesus, just before this incident, has been outspoken about big troubles lay ahead. Outward success is not going to be the result of Christ’s mission. Apparent failure is. He is going to be arrested, roughed up by brutal men, tried and convicted, and put to death by the cruellest method devised by the dark side of the human mind. After that he will live again.
Do they get it? No a bit! His closest disciples will not allow any of this awful truth to slip through the filter of their rosy ambitions. For heaven’s sake! Jesus is facing a gruesome death, steeling himself for it, wanting their understanding, but all they can think about is which one of them is the greatest.
A SENSE OF OUR OWN IMPORTANCE?
Human beings spend a hefty hunk of their time in trying to establish a good self image. We want to feel important. We want to poke out our chest and pat some one else on the head. Maybe we don’t want to be the greatest but we would like to be better than many.
Out-performing others is a common modus operandi. Even amongst our friends we would like to be the pick of the bunch. And certainly within our family, we want to be the success story. We try to out-do the others in some way which makes us seem special.
Let me hasten to add that feeling good about ourselves is important, even essential, for emotional and spiritual health. Self dislike, self-hate, is a grievous condition. The boy who always cringes to the edge of the path to allow other kids to pass or the girl who looks in the mirror and says “Yuk!” are not to be congratulated for their humility. That is a pitiful state for any poor child to be in. Many grow up to stay that way, apologising their way through life, begging the pardon of others or of God for daring to be alive. Feeling good about oneself cannot be underestimated. Among alcoholics and other drug addicts, gamblers and those suffering from anorexia, are found sensitive souls who don’t feel good about themselves.
WRONG WAYS OF FEELING GOOD
The tragedy is that many of us, much of the time, go the wrong way about building our self image. We try to achieve is by making ourselves superior to others. There are many variations, religious and secular, of the method found among the Pharisees who hounded Jesus.
Take 1. Tom and Betty have put the kids to bed and are watching the news on TV. Maybe there is a news item about a lawyer, who has embezzled the funds of clients, or an eminent politician caught having and affair with a journalist, or a sports star who has tested positive to prohibited drugs. Tom drinks in the news, gives a big snort and says to Betty: “Well luv, I may not be real smart, an’ I’m not the handsomest guy in the world, but I would never sink to that level! I at least know how to do the right thing.” Tom actually feels better by having the sordid details of other people on the screen in front of him.
Take 2: I suspect that some TV shows that exploit human stupidity and sin get their support because they make the audience feel comfortably self righteous. The bad conduct of others makes us feel good about ourselves. Maybe shows like Jerry Springer satisfy their fans by showing the seamy side of humanity, thus enabling them to bolster their own self image. Why else do people watch that inane kind of stuff?
Take 3: Common boosters. Perhaps we take a similar dose of self-validation through our work, sporting capability, or social influence, status of friends, good looks (male’s bulging biceps, females taught abs and flat tummy) fame or notoriety, the kind of car we drive, our academic degrees, the success of our children, the size of our house, the overseas holidays we take, the clothes we wear, how many beers we can consume, whether we can quote Shakespeare, or even whether we briefly appeared in a crowd shot on television.
Take 4: Being indispensable. Some bolster their self image by making sure they are indispensable to the boss, or their families, or to the organisation of a service club or sporting body. They seek self-validation through charitable deeds, or in the tasks of local government. I have known people who have lived and toiled for the time when their name will appear in the Australia Day honours list. There are also a number, I am sorry to say, who go the way of trying to be indispensable to their church community. They try to insert themselves in every council and every committee. They want to hear others say: “What would we do without you?” They want to be the movers and shakers within their congregation,
Take 5: Moral and religious. There are those that take the high moral ground. They become strident in the condemnation of others. They see themselves as the custodians of decency. or the conservative stalwarts, holding against the tide of risky innovations. Others take the high religious ground. These try to self-validate by being overtly pious, patently prayerful, theologically erudite, people of superior faith, or are prepared with a Bible quote for every occasion. Among them are the self appointed guardians of the “true faith.”
DOOMED TO FAILURE
Useless! Or as the melancholy write of Ecclesiastes would say: “Vanity, vanity, all is vanity.” Each attempt at self-validation is doomed to fail. Self-image built up by these methods is chronically precarious. We never feel fully secure. As a result anxiety can gnaw at our being even when we seem to achieve outward success.
The woman who boosts her ego by gossiping about others, is always afraid others are talking behind her back.
The student who is dux finds the future examination surrounded with increased anxiety.
The sport’s star who becomes number one keeps looking at the younger players in fear of being toppled.
The morally righteous person is set upon by the fear that some day they won’t live up to their high reputation.
The dominating personality who is a big fish in a small pond is suspicious of every gifted person who joins their particular group, club, or church.
Business moguls at the top of the pile, having clawed their way there by prodigious effort, cunning, and often ruthlessness, live with an undercurrent of anxiety about where likely threats will come from. How long can I stay up here on the pinnacle? Who is planning to unseat me just as I planned to unseat my predecessor?
One of the greatest middle distance athletes this country has produced is Herb Elliot. He won all his races. Never lost. There were others talented runners around him but they lacked his will to win. I recollect him being interviewed on one occasion. The reporter asked something like this: “What is it about the thrill of winning that so drives you to succeed again and again?” Elliot replied in these terms, “It’s not winning that drives me but the fear of losing. I’m. terrified of losing.” Fear of losing; that comment made me sad.
All our attempts to validate our self worth by physical effort, intellect, or cunning are like houses of straw erected over the sands of anxiety. In the final analysis they fail.
I like affirmation from others as well as any of you. That is natural. We all need some of that to keep us going. But it cannot be the foundation of our self image: It is too flimsy.
WHERE DO WE TURN?
If we cannot achieve it by our efforts, where do we turn? We need something permanent, immovable to validate us.
In the sixties and seventies one piece of poetic prose became the most overused in the English language. Many of you will remember it: It came with the name of Desiderata and began: “Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there is in silence. Towards the end it went on “You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and stars; you have a right to be here.”
Here in Aus we were fed the line that this was found inscribed on an old gravestone, in a New England churchyard. It added a certain mystique. (In fact, the words were by the American poet Max Ehrmann who died in 1945) But the fact remains that the words ‘rang a bell”, spoke to whole generation of young people. Why? Why did they so speak?
I would suggest the reason is that they addressed our human anxiety. That beautiful piece of poetic writing anchored our validation in something immensely larger than our own ego, or the opinions of others. It claimed our value as children of the universe! And there’s not much that is better than that! Obviously Desiderata was on the right track. You can’t explain its popularity any other way. But for me it did not go far enough. There is something greater where our worth is validated.
I want to go further with Jesus who told us our value was more priceless than any thing in the whole universe. Our worth is anchored in the Creator of the universe, who is like a Dad who loves us utterly. Jesus asked us to trust Abba completely. His whole teaching and loving deeds proclaimed: “You have a right to be here, because God has called you, and knows each of one’s name, and numbers the hairs on every human head.
There is a wondrous sanity in Jesus which far outreaches all the so called wisdom of the world. While he was trying to cope with the certainty of his arrest, desolation and agonising death, His disciples where stupidly intent on self validation; they were arguing about which of them was the most important. Jesus was facing death but it was the disciples who were really on a path that was doomed.
Only God was sufficient to authenticate the value of their lives. If only they would learn that. He told them plainly: the most self important among must be ready to be worth nothing, the least and the servant of others, and then just stake their lives on God. That God loved them and valued them as priceless, was the only sure ground of peace and purpose. Don’t trust yourself, don’t trust the opinions of others, just trust God. Do that and a secure realisation of your true worth will come to you as sheer gift.
Let go. Let God. Shed your self-justifications. Throw way your odious comparisons with other human beings. Be as the last, begin as nothing, be like a menial servant, don’t grab for status and power, and you will find you inherit all things.
Jesus took a small child and stood him among them, a diminutive little figure. He then picked the child up, maybe sat him on his knee, as an example of those who have no status yet have everything. There may be a double meaning here. In the early church new converts where called little children. The new converts brought nothing except their readiness to trust the grace of God in Christ Jesus. They disowned all else and started afresh.
Whenever a soul finds this God-given status, a wonderful peace takes over. A serenity beyond all else. I have seen it happen to people in evangelical missions, in spiritual retreats, in special moments of involvement in high church liturgy, and at the Table of the Lord. I know. I speak from my personal experience.
WHEN WE ARE STRIPPED BARE
All other attempts at self-validation will finally fail. Sooner or later accident, disease, frailty or old age will rob most of us of egocentric self-worth. A Superman actor may become a paraplegic, the university professor succumbs to senility, and the top sportsman will be forgotten. Even the most important of us become yesterday’s heroes.
Many of us end up being nursed like an infant, maybe spoon fed– or bottle fed by a medical drip. And if a few escape deep into old age, all those friends and opponents who once either loved or feared us and gave our ego a sense of importance, die and leave us alone, to exist with another generation that patronises us. Then arrives death, the final leveller. All our human pretensions, our honed abilities, our status, present or past, are reduced to nothing in the graveyard or crematorium.
In death the only permanent value we have is that which God gives us. Forget the eulogy; forget the few who will visit your grave or rose bush for a few years. That is only a temporary thing and it can no longer benefit you. Only God can say in death: “You have value to me. I love you. You are my child. Come and inherit the kingdom which I have prepared for you before the foundation of the universe.”
Why wait until death to face up to the fact that human devices for self validation are useless?
Why not die to ego now and begin to live now as those who are validated by God? The early believers saw conversion and baptism as a dying to the old self and a rising to the new self. It was a helpful insight and practice. John’s Gospel expresses it in another way when he says that those who truly believe have already crossed over from death to life.
Will you each ask yourself again this day: “Am I caught up in the futile practice of trying to justify my existence through my own efforts? Am I attempting to build up my self-worth by competing with, or looking down on, others?”
All efforts at self validation, no matter how outwardly successful they may appear, are but a thin facade. Behind the facade rodent anxiety gnaws away, and sooner or later the facade will collapse.
There is only one ground of a good self image that nothing cannot erode or plunder: God. God’s valuation. God’s price, a price spelt out, once and for all, in blood. You are a very special, invaluable being in God’s eyes.
Picture in your mind the child that Jesus placed in the midst of his self-important disciples. See Jesus pick that child up and maybe sit the little one on his knee. If you do nothing else this morning, I beg you, once again (or maybe for the first time) become that little child and sit on Christ’s knee. Become the least, and you will become the first. On Christ’s knee you are infinitely greater than Field Marshals or Nobel Prize winners, greater than Prime Ministers, Popes and Presidents, greater even than the universe itself.
SERMON 2: PERFECT MATCH?
* Too long . Reduce by a quarter
Proverbs 31: 10-31
If any man refuses to marry until he finds the perfect wife, he will certainly die a bachelor.
A perfect match is about as unlikely as a woman finding a perfect husband.
Yet the 30th chapter of the book of Proverbs appears to offer such an option
The writer, said to be a king called Lemuel, speaks to the lad he calls “my son.”
First warns the young man not to hand over his integrity for the sake of any women. He continues on quickly to warn about the dangers drinking wine to excess. Drinking impairs judgement, endangers one’s values. When in the grip of alcohol a previously good man fails to stand up for those folk who are weak and poor. Drink can even drag a man into acts of abuse and injustice.
THE CV FOR A PERFECT MATCH
At verse 10, good king Lemuel changes tack: He sets a spinnaker and sails powerfully into the high seas of praise for a truly virtuous wife.
A good wife is hard to find,
She is more precious than jewels.
The heart of her husband utterly trust her,
and he will never lose by that trust.
What follows is the CV for a perfect wife. In fact, it is so splendid that in this real world even the best possible husband would not be good enough for this remarkable creature.
Yet it is there in the Bible. It can inspire, or maybe taunt, ordinary women.
Many devout women over the centuries have taken this CV as a role model. None have reached its heights. Many have tried, though; valiantly tried. Indeed some self effacing and capable wives have almost made it.
A few of these have allowed their near-success go to their heads. They have presumed to look down at other struggling wives, preened themselves, and dared to gloat a little over the manifest shortcoming of their lesser sisters.
More often, Christian women have become discouraged when they have given it their best shot yet fallen far short of the ideal wife as outlined by HRH Lemuel. Tragically some women: have become overwhelmed by the example of Proverbs 31, and have been crushed under the weight of unreal expectations, leaving them in a state of black depression.
A MALE VIEW
There, I have said it: Unreal expectations. We men can be like that.
Obviously this job description was written by a male of the species. His paragon is put up on a pedestal to serve his glory. Maybe she is his trophy to help make her husband a big man in the community status stakes.
There is one thing we can say about this model of a perfect match offered by HRH Lem. At least this woman in Proverbs 31 is a far wiser choice than those made by rich and powerful men these days, when they wed and parade their trophy wife on TV.
Lately the emphasis is on surface features; a sexy body, and an alluring public personality. She must be a stylish and gracious hostess, an elegant dinner companion who will make all the other men in a 5 star restaurant jealous. She is expected to be an ornament for his bay side mansion, make a good impression on those men with whom he is trying to make a deal, and be a glittering accessory to his BMW, Mercedes or Porsche.
Let’s be honest, you fellows! Men can be so damned stupid! And I do mean “damned.” Especially rich men. Especially powerful men! And even unpowerful men? Stupid, stupid, stupid.
I reckon some of your gentlemen here today have at some time been standing with a group of men when a stranger with a curvaceous blonde on his arms strolls by. One of the men whispers: “Now there’s a lucky guy!”
Our good king Lem does not degenerate into making that absurd, superficial judgement. He warns his son:
“Feminine charms are deceitful, and beauty is vain.”
He wants his boy to do better than team up with the ancient equivalent of a super-model or a sexy film star.
Lemuel looks for deeper qualities. And most of us would salute him for that.
THE PROFILE OF A GOOD WIFE
Now let us make a closer examination of King Lemuel’s profile of a good wife, a perfect match for his son.
First we note that her spouse trusts her. She is sincerely a godly person, one who engenders trust from others.
She is more precious than jewels,
with all his heart her husband can trust her,
and he will never live to regret it.
Such trust is not gift bestowed by her man. Trust can only happen where a person is not conniving, but is a soul of integrity. Integrity begets trust. I personally have experienced that blessing in my own marriage. I have been known to say to close friends that the woman whose husband I am lucky to be, is one of the most honest human beings I have ever met. She cannot abide any duplicity. Because Marie is who she is, I can always trust her unconditionally. Trust is her gift to me; not something I patronisingly bestow on her.
But our royal father Lemuel goes further than trust. His perfect CV sketches a good wife as one who is capable, dexterous and industrious. She is no idle ornament to a marriage.
She looks for good wool and flax,
and works with willing hands.
When it comes to meals,
She is like laden merchant ships
bringing food from afar.
She rises well before dawn
and prepares the food for her household,
A good and willing cook? It makes a man’s mouth start to water.
Now, please underscore this next point in your heads. Lemuel’s virtuous wife is not a servile flunkey. She has his respect. Her husband admires her acumen and backs her in running the family business. A home industry in fact. She buys and sells land. She markets merchandise at a good profit, the lamp in her workroom hardly goes out at night.
This woman a designer and manufacturer.
She puts her hands to the distaff,
and her hands hold the spindle.
She makes linen garments for sale,
and delivers sashes to the retailers.
She makes her own dresses,
she is attired in fine linen and purple.
None in her home fear the winter’s snow,
for they are clothed in the best red flannel.
She cares well for her household,
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Wow! What a woman!
But Lemuel has not finished. There are even more virtues to list. As good though her needlework is, and her business acumen, there is something even more valuable; it is her personal character:
Strength and dignity are her soul’s apparel,
she can afford to laugh when others fear the future.
Whenever she talks she speaks common sense,
and kind words are ever on her tongue.
No wonder this remarkable woman is honoured by her family:
Her children stand up and call her blessed,
and her husband too, as he praises her.
So they should. If they didn’t, surely the husband and children would be the most “ornery” people in the world!
A DOWN SIDE
But there is a down side. How does this paragon effect other wives?
Should we be surprised that this ideal woman has for centuries given many wonderful wives and mothers an inferiority complex? What shoes to try and fill!
And in heaven’s name, if any such woman ever existed, then let us all unite in sympathy for her daughter’s-in-law!
I reckon many a prospective bride would be inclined say: “Hold on! I can’t compete with that. I’m out of here!”
Moreover we can readily empathise with the woman who exclaimed: “Fair go King Lem! Why didn’t you w rite for us a profile of the perfect husband? That would even the balance a bit, and comply with the spirit of the equal opportunity legislation!”
SOME APOLOGIES AND AFFIRMATIONS
What can we of the twenty first century make of this passage for Proverbs?
Firstly let me apologise on behalf of those many men who in past centuries have used a passage like this to oppress and abuse their wives; those hard taskmasters who threw this hunk of Scripture at their spouse like a missile. Who treated them like cheap labour and expected them to toil both day and night.
Such boorish husbands, wherever they are now, among the sorry inhabitants of hell or if they have somehow (by amazing grace) scraped through to be among the angels, at last know far better.
Second, I want to affirm the degree of dignity this wife is given by royal Lemuel. I say dignity because she was the undoubted manager of a busy cottage industry. Her husband honoured her abilities and encouraged their expression. This husband was not a put-down bully. He gave his wife the respect she was entitled to.
Today I want to affirm and encourage all those contemporary men who genuinely see themselves as equal partners in a relationship. Those liberated guys who respect and cherish every gift their partner has.
The changes over the last fifty years have not always been easy for men. Many of us these days have some confusion about our role as husband and father. We need to acknowledge such confusion, and try to help each other steer our way through to healthy self confidence. But if for a few more decades some such confusion is inevitable, then I say (and I hope I say it in the name of God) that a few such difficulties are well worth it. Well worth it to outgrow the injustices that were the lot of many women over many centuries.
Third, I can only echo the wisdom of King Elm when he places the emphasis on her character more than the woman’s looks. That wisdom is as relevant today as it was back then, over 2,000 years ago.
Since human civilisation began, people of all eras have placed too much emphasis on outward appearance. “Looks” have been overvalued.
Our age which loves excesses, has outdone them all and ‘gone ape” on this theme. The modern cosmetic industry is a mammoth one. And now cosmetic surgery has become common place. I feel nothing but sadness for those women who think they have to eliminate a few wrinkles, enlarge or reduce their bust, plump up their lips, and have a tummy tuck before they can be rated as acceptable women.
King Lemuel knew better than to peddle such a misguided attitude. His son received much better advice.
WE CAN DO BETTER
We can do even better. As Christians, who are all gathered up in the saving grace of Christ, we can go further than our ancient and royal marriage counsellor. We can, and must, affirm the dignity of each woman in terms of their precious status as children of God. Thanks be to Christ, this revaluation has begun.
It is a revolutionary revaluation, which is not limited to the female of the species. This applies just as much to men.
Sadly, many men these days can be also found among those anxious souls who think they have to look great outwardly to be worthy of attention. That is a dangerous slippery slide. A dismal devaluation. No man should ever assess his own acceptability on the cut of his hair, the size of his biceps, the trim tightness of his “abs ”and “butt.” Nor (God help us!) should he think he has to prove himself a worthy male by being a tireless “stud” in the bedroom. That, my friends, is gross! A pathetic dehumanisation!
For God, and for any partner worth having, what we are as persons, our essential character, matters far more than superficial features. Character outweighs looks a 100 to 1. As Lemuel in his wisdom put it:
Outward charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
but a person who loves [fears] the Lord is to be treasured.
Amen! to such wisdom!
A VOTE OF THANKS.
My friends, I would now like to move a vote of thanks to the good King Lemuel and his wisdom. He may have gilded the credibility envelope when he outlined his expectations for a suitable partner for his son. We parents are like that! But thank God he was on the right track. His version of “perfect match” pushes us in the direction of Jesus; Jesus in whom the very wisdom of God took human flesh, and lived among us, full of grace and truth. Christ’s valuation of us as is as good as it gets.
The very idea of a “perfect match” is of course crazy. There will never be a perfect match until we find a perfect woman and a perfect man. I don’t see that happening soon. But to pursue ideals, and values, and have respect, both for ourselves and for the other, is highly desirable in a Christian marriage. But those ideals must always be linked to a frank acknowledgment of our ongoing human frailty and ignorance, and a firm trust in redeeming love of Christ Jesus.
By the grace of our Lord, many an imperfect match can attain a profound maturity and beauty. Thanks be to God, who is above all, and among all and within all.
Through no achievement of our own but purely by grace, we place our trust in the living God.
In spite of the mixed messages sent by ‘nature red in tooth and claw,” we do believe.
In spite of earthquake, tsunami, volcano, cyclone, flood, famine and fire, we believe.
In spite of the vast cosmos and the apparent smallness of each human life, we believe.
In spite of some insipient doubts within us and much cynicism around us, we believe.
In spite of cancer and malaria, aids, and meningococcal, decay and death, we believe.
In spite of the ridicule of the arrogant and the scorn of the self-satisfied, we believe.
In spite of human greed, terrible injustices, cruel abuse, terrorism and war, we believe.
In spite of some good people suffering while many evil seem to prosper, we believe.
Because of Christ Jesus, joy of loving hearts, we believe God loves us utterly.
Through his humble birth, healing deeds, and penetrating words, we believe.
Through his humiliation and suffering, his trials and crucifixion, we believe.
Through his victory over death, and his Presence with us forever, we believe.
PRAYERS FOR OTHERS
“Forgotten People”–See “Australian Prayers” revised, page 226
“Injustice and Suffering”– “Jesus Our Future” page 87
© Open Book Publishers
Remember one of the secrets of success according to Jesus: “If you want to feel great, be willing to come last and to gladly serve others.”
May God give you the faith and love to put this into practice, and the humility to permit others to do the same for you.
Depart from this house of prayer with restored hopes and renewed enthusiasm. And the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, will be with you all, today and evermore.
My Best Mate, (first edition 2013)
ISBN 978-1-937763-78-7: AUSTRALIA:
ISBN : 978-1-937763-79- 4: USA
Third edition May 2014
ISBN 978-1-62880-033-3 Australia
Jesus Our Future
Prayers for the Twenty First Century
Second Edition May 2014
|Although this book was written with young people in mind, it has proved to be popular with Christians or seekers of all ages. Through the eyes and ears of a youth named Chip, big questions are raised and wrestled with; faith and doubt, unanswered prayers, refugees, death and grief, racism and bullying, are just a few of the varied topics confronted in these pages. Suitable as a gift to the young, and proven to be helpful when it has been used as a study book for adults.||
Australian Prayers has been a valuable prayer resource for over thirty years. These prayers are suitable for both private and public use and continue to be as fresh and relevant today as ever. Also, the author encourages users to adapt geographical or historical images to suit local, current situations.
This collection of original, contemporary prayers is anchored firmly in the belief that no matter what the immediate future may hold for us, ultimately Jesus is himself both the goal and the shape of our future. He is the key certainty towards which the Spirit of God is inexorably leading us in this scientific and high-tech era. Although the first pages of this book were created for the turn of the millennium, the resources in this volume reflect the interests, concerns and needs of our post-modern world.