The problem with thoughtful prayer is that it is ever-expanding in both scope and intent. To pray thoughtfully requires concentration and preparation; you have to know the priorities of Scripture and the heart of God. It also requires time.
The basic result is very telling: in the end we treat them both the same. That which is holy is used in the same way as that which is vulgar; what is above us is treated the same way as that which is beneath us as image bearers of God. This displays a heart that is lacking in reverence and dignity.
The real task before us is to live as an ambassador, representing a foreign power whose priorities are based on a different value system. We attend all the events in which locals participate and befriend them over time, but always with the agenda of making a difference and winning them to the superior life authorized by the authority we represent.
All around us fear is reigning and people are gearing up for war. Gun sales are booming and security is being sought in the ability to kill. Young men carry guns out of fear and police shoot young men carrying pellet guns out of fear. Millions are displaced by wars and left helpless because others fear the (possibly) hundreds who want more war. These are dark days. Those days are when the light must be put on full display (Luke 8:16)!
When I say, “Jesus,” is your inner response different than when you hear “Christmas?” If so, you probably just experienced the distance between the message and the mess we have made of it in the name of “celebration.” While we profess that “Jesus is the reason for the season” we live as if the season is the reason for our decisions and activities.
As I grow older, I am more and more aware of the need to keep moving and not become a stumbling block that hides what is coming in the future from those around me. By faith, I hope to move toward the future in growth and confidence as genuine spiritual maturity must do, holding out the truth of God’s Word and the confidence of faith in the unchanging God, even as His Spirit changes me! Perilous times are part of the package of last days living; they are not an excuse for decreased faithfulness on the part of God’s people.
Let’s get to the point and see if you get it. Jesus asked, “Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” (Luke 10:36). In my paraphrase, I would update it to ask, “Which of these three really believes all lives matter?”
To have a strong body, we need to have strong bonds which hold us together—bonds which rest on the power of God and remain in place no matter what happens with the substitutes described above. In every circumstance and every activity, we look for the way God has intended us to make a difference and commit ourselves to being faithful to that call.
The Christian life calls for the repudiation of ruts. We have been called to excellence in all we do. A slave would naturally tend toward careless, mindless ruts—he or she did not owe the master anything, right? But Paul said, “Bondservants, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” (Col. 3:22-24)