[re]Understanding Prayer

05-11-25I’ve been reading a book by Kyle Lake lately called “[re]Understanding Prayer.” (By the way, he’s the guy from UBC Waco who was electrocuted recently while doing a baptism.) Anyway, one of the chapters focuses on Prayer as Drama. He talks about how we learn certain “scripts” from the people in our church as we grow up in our faith. We tend to use certain phrases and emotional dynamics which we have learned from others in the church. He goes on to explain that those who have been in the church the longest seem to be the ones who are the best “actors” – they know the scripts better than everyone else.

I’d have to confess that this is true of me. I’ve been in the church long enough to learn the “scripts” pretty well – I can “act” Christian with the best of ’em.

You know, the youth that I work with are always reluctant to pray in front of the group. I don’t believe this is because they don’t know how to talk to God (I mean, they talk to God all the time privately) – I think it’s because they don’t know the “scripts” all that well and are afraid to look like bad “actors.” Why do we as the church create these kinds of situations where we make feel others feel insecure? Do we do it because it makes us feel superior with our fancy words? (Check Mt 6:5-8) I wonder what I can do to combat this issue? I wonder how I can help create an environment where we all can just be ourselves, and be humble and honest in our dealings with God?

I’ve seen alot of bad “actors” when it comes to prayer – but I’ve also noticed that many of them are the very ones who seem to have a passion that goes beyond my understanding. I wonder if their relationship with God is just more open. I wonder what it would mean to be “like a child” when it comes to prayer?

The best example I know of someone to look up to – who doesn’t follow a script – is my friend Jon. He just talks to God, “Well God, it’s me again  and . . . .”

Thanks Jon, I’m learning from you – oh – and also thanks Kyle for your book which has helped me recognize some of this stuff.

And thank you God for giving me the gift of each of these two men.

Alfredo, Lowes, a wennie dog, and a truck!

Alright – something strange happened the other day. I was at Lowes with Miranda and we were buying wood so I could build some end tables and a coffee table. Anyway, we got everything we needed – by the way – Lowes is cool! – anything you could ever need – I even found an orange cone so I could put them up around the area where I was working – How cool is that? OK – so I steered our little buggy palette to the car and started loading the car. Uh oh! You guessed it. A 4X8 sheet of plywood won’t fit in an Explorer. I thought it would ’cause we had put a 4X4 in the previous week. So now I’m in trouble and Miranda is getting embarrassed as people watched and laughed at us when they went into the store. Then, out of nowhere this man just kind of appears behind me and asks, “Where do you live?” As I turn around to look at him, I kinda mumble something, I’m not sure what I said.

Then he says, “You live in Lake Jackson?”

I say, “Yes!”

and he says “Here, take my truck.” and hands me his keys.

A TOTAL STRANGER HANDS ME HIS KEYS! – never even asked my name.

I try to talk him into coming with us, but he says he trusts us, and insists on giving us his keys. I decided it was the only way we were getting that stuff home and Miranda doesn’t need to be embarrassed anymore, and take his keys. I tell him my name and that I work in a church and then he says he’s a Pastor of another church. We take his truck with his little wennie dog “Katie” to our house and then bring it back to Lowes and give him his keys back. End of story. . . . .

Now here’s my take on it. We were studying John 4 the next day with the youth. That’s where Jesus talks with the Samaritan woman at the well. Jesus broke down all kinds of stereotypes and laws when he spoke to her. Jewish men didn’t speak to women in public, they didn’t speak to Samaritans, and they didn’t speak to “ungodly” people (remember she had had like 5 husbands) Anyway, Jesus crossed all these lines just to give her a better life.

This man (“Alfredo” was his name) broke the unwritten law of not trusting strangers to make our lives better. He even trusted us with his dog.

“Alfredo” – wherever you are today. You should know, you were Jesus to me that day! Thanks! God bless you!

Gospel of John

I wrote up some notes on the Gospel of John for a series I was teaching our youth. It was a powerful study for me and so I’ve included these notes in case anyone else wants to check out what I learned. We only did the first 12 chapters so . . . I guess the rest of the notes are to come later. Hope you enjoy!

Download commentary_chapters_1-12.doc

Hmm…

houseHmm. . .

Miranda and I just moved into our new house this month. It’s kind of a mixed bag of emotions that I have. First, I’m excited to have a house and a place share my life with my wife. Our dogs love having a back yard too. Hopefully, one day we’ll have a family to share it all with too.

But there is a downside – we haven’t been there long, and already I’ve got a list of stuff I gotta do. Home is supposed to be a place to come home from work to rest – right?? I just finished building a kitchen table and now we gotta paint it, then I gotta build some end tables, and a shelving unit. I also gotta make sure the yard is kept up, figure out how to get our DSL line working at home, and_____, and _____. It just seems like the list goes on and on.

Anyway, I guess I’m pretty proud of the kitchen table I built and I’d say even after all the headaches, that it was worth it. As I imagine all the friends who will eventually sit at that table and the conversations which will surround it. We’ll probably play cards and laugh with friends there. Who knows maybe, we’ll even eat on it every once in a while? As I built the table, I probably should have prayed for some of those things, but I must admit I was too busy thinking about measurements and where did I put the screwdriver. (I’ll try to do that next time I build something.)

Maybe I just need to turn my thinking around a bit – instead of feeling the pressure to get it all done – it should be an excitement to have more opportunities to serve my Jesus. I can pray at any time – even when I’m doing what I hate the most.

Yoke

05-10-18Cool stuff! I just  learned. Rob Bell in his book “Velvet Elvis” talks about it all.

In Jewish culture, there were lots of Rabbis (teachers) who each had their own interpretations of the scriptures. If a rabbi took on a student, that student was agreeing to live under the “yoke” of that rabbi – the “yoke” was the different ways that the rabbi interpreted the scriptures. He would allow some things and not allow others based on this “yoke.” For example – One rabbi might say you can walk a certain distance on the Sabbath, but if you went any further that would be “work” and it would violate the Sabbath. Another rabbi might permit you to walk further, but forbid other things. It’s all in the interpretation – or the “yoke.”

If a student didn’t quite understand what a rabbi meant the rabbi would say, “You’ve abolished the Torah.” but if the student understood it completely the rabbi’s response would be “You’ve fulfilled the Torah.”

When Jesus first preached that He was there to “fulfill the law, not to abolish it,” the Jewish listeners heard a whole different thing than we do. He was basically saying – I understand all this better than anyone. This is partly why Jesus had som many followers. Most rabbis were teaching the yoke of some other well-respected rabbi – but Jesus wasn’t. He was teaching a whole new yoke. It was rare that anyone would have the guts to say, “My interpretation is new and it’s better than anybody else who came before me.” One way the people could judge whether they were speaking the truth or not, was by who else supported this teaching.

For a student to become a rabbi himself – he had to be validated by two other rabbis who would lay hands on him and pray over him. This is why Jesus’ baptism was so important – the two “rabbis” who laid hands on Him were. The voice of one crying in the desrt (John the Baptist) and the voice from heaven. (God, the Father)

A new “yoke” interpretation would take on the sounds of “you’ve heard it said…but I tell you…” which in many ways was bashing the previous teachers. The process of allowing certain things and forbidding others was called “binding and loosing.” The “bind” it was to forbid it. To “loose” something was to allow it. So a rabbi would “bind” certain practices and “loose” others and eventually when he’d give his disciples authority to bind and loose, it was called “giving the keys to the kingdom.”

Listen with new ears now as Jesus says in Matthew, “I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

It is very significant to recognize that Jesus is giving his followers  authority to make new interpretations of the Scriptures.