Paul in this next section of 1 Timothy 2 after exhorting us to pray for our fellow man and even those in authority over us now tells us who it is that allows us to be able to pray to our Father in heaven. Nothing separates us more from our Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox brothers and sisters (excepting of course JBFA) than the idea that we who have been born-again in Christ now have been given the ability to speak directly to God the Father through the death and resurrection of Christ Jesus. This should be earth-shattering information for us. Stop and think about this for a second…….
We who have been alienated from the Father because of our complicity in Adam’s sin now have been given the right by our residence in the bosom of Christ to speak DIRECTLY to the Father through his Son. Read verses 5 and 6 and think on this:
For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time.
Moving back into the swing of things we will now take a look at the beginning of Paul’s second chapter in his first letter to Timothy. In this pericope Paul is teaching Timothy here to remember all things in his prayers, not just those things that seem enviable or close to him but all things in prayer. I often have heard people question the validity of praying for civil authorities and dignitaries but we will see that Paul expressly commands Timothy to lead prayers for these men as well. This has much to say in our day of political division and ideological causticity. So without further ado here is the first two verses of 1 Tim 2.
First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.
Paul makes to me a fascinating statement here at the end of verse two concerning why it is we should pray for kings and all who are in authority. What does he say? He says, “…so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.” Wow! What a statement! Paul is calling for prayers on civil authority so that what? We can live in peace and solitude. Imagine that. Paul has such faith and trust in the power of prayer that he thinks if we pray for the authority we can be Christian without pagan intervention. Think on that for a second. Think what it would be like, since we have deluded ourselves into thinking we can live truly Christian lives in our pagan environment, to live in peace and tranquility. What does that look like for the Christian and why is Paul exhorting Timothy here to seek its finality in prayer? One of the first things that degrades in the Christian person after they have become complacent in their faith is an understanding of the supreme importance of prayer (I cannot stress that enough) in their cognitive daily routine. This is why Paul exhorts us in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 to rejoice to the Lord always, to pray without ceasing. It is because Paul understands the TRUE POWER OF PRAYER. This is one thing that certainly has been atrophied in our churches is this focus upon prayer and its purpose in the Christian life. So I ask you know. If Paul believed that peace for the Christian could come through prayer for civil authorities and for all men why do we not?
I want to ask my friends in the blogosphere for their prayers for myself this weekend. I am going down to Charleston, WV for the required annual consultation with my Committee on Preparation for the Ministry. Some of you may find it shocking that my CPM and I have a contentious relationship. So my prayer is both for my CPM, that they may be gracious and courteous and for myself that I may not be the cause of any consternation.
I also used to say that one should never leave a church if that church needs him/her in order to survive. But from God’s point of view, no human being is indispensable. If he wants a weak church to keep going, he will supply the gifts that church needs. On the other hand, I have come to the view that it is not a tragedy when a tiny, stagnant, sick church folds up and dies. It is better for the members of such churches to be part of living, dynamic fellowships than to stay forever in a situation where they are constantly discouraged and, most likely, not being properly fed.
As someone who rarely, if ever, agrees with John Frame I find in this section from his work Evangelical Reunion (cf. Rev. Toby Brown’s already linked discussion) a paragraph that is quite refreshing. I find myself presently at a time of much discernment and prayer as to my future in the PC(USA). As I think about this I am often troubled by further deepening the already wide gulf between the denominational landscape. What I personally struggle with is whether I am called to be like Jeremiah and others prophets (certainly not calling myself a prophet, that would be absurd) and stay in an increasingly apostate denomination preaching the gospel where many minds are shut to it or seek to follow the example of Matthew 10:14 and shake the dust from my feet and move on to another town.
Pirates fire GM Littlefield
Friday, September 07, 2007
(First published at 11:01 a.m.; updated 11:42)
The Pirates this morning fired general manager Dave Littlefield near the end of his seventh losing season.
He will be replaced on an interim basis by Brian Graham, the team’s director of player development.
Littlefield, 47, took the post July 31, 2001, and his teams went a combined 442-581 in his tenure, never approaching .500. That included 67-95 finishes in 2005 and 2006, and the current edition’s 61-79 record.
His contract, which was extended on opening day last year, was to run through the 2008 season.
The firing was made by principal owner Bob Nutting, who already had been searching for a new CEO to replace outgoing Kevin McClatchy and now will add the general manager’s post to that list.
“After eight months of listening and analyzing the situation, it has become clear that this decision was necessary to move our organization forward,” Nutting said. “While there are many bright spots for us to build from, I am not satisfied with the overall performance and progress that has been made. I’m committed to building a successful organization, and this is an important step in that process.”
I have just returned from another day of preaching at a small church that is in dire need of direction, understanding, spiritual leadership, and most of all stability in the pulpit. The particular church I preached at today has not had a Full-Time pastor since 1997. They have tried to call freshly-ordained Seminary students but cannot quite “get anybody to come”. They tried the CLP route (which my Mother is one) but could not find one that would stick with them in times of trouble. They have been abandoned for “greener pastures” by more pastors than the poor Clerk of Session could count. They believe themselves to have been forgotten by their presbytery but more dangerously forgotten by God. They see the Methodists and Baptists-worse yet the word of faith gospel churches-growing but they continue to shrink as each member dies off. And they cannot understand why the word of faith churches grow but they do not. For example, while I was there today during the Joys and Concerns before the Pastoral Prayer they asked me to pray “that children would start coming to their church”. In my young and naive experience with presbyteries that have large numbers of these types of churches they have tendency to see the rural, low-member churches as nuisances rather than as a mission-area to be culled. They would rather these churches-that can barely scrap together 1/10 of the per-capita of the larger, more urban and ethnically diverse churches-disappear so that they can refocus themselves in other areas instead of spending time, resources, and money trying to support these rural churches. We focus our efforts globally and forget that our rural churches need support as well. I may be a bit biased as I come from a background of attending small, rural (less than 15 members in one case) Presbyterian Churches. I grew up defending Presbyterianism-more importantly Sola Gracia and true Salvation by Faith Alone-from attacks from the independent Baptists that I grew up with. Presbyterianism is dying in rural America. It died once from a lack of pastors, let us hope that the clergy will not allow this to happen again.
This Prayer Request #3 is for discerment. As most of you know I am a seminarian and am an inquirer in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). As all of you who are aquainted with this denomination understand these are tumultuous times that require vigilance, study, and most importantly fervent prayer. While the seminary I attend is not overly theologically liberal it does have on its staff two men out in the forefront of the fight we find ourselves in: The Rev. Dr. Andrew Purves and Dr. Robert A.J. Gagnon. I find myself standing in the wilderness tearing my cloak as I stand full of anxiety, passion, and uncertainty. II ask for prayers of discerment as I begin to near Ordination as to the path in which God has chosen for me. In God there is hope. In God there is foundation. To God Be the Glory. Amen.