Last Sunday I began an extended study of the Apocalypse of Jesus the Messiah with a studious, gracious, and interested group of Bible students at the Woodmont Hills Church of Christ in Nashville, Tennessee. It will be a long journey but, I'm convinced, a fruitful one. I will post along the way as I have other texts we have studied (e.g., Mark, Amos, Zechariah; these and others are available through the "Serial Index" menu).
Tell yourself today on the job, in your home, in your neighborhood the following mantra.
“I don’t always get my way.”
It’s a lesson we all should have learned when we were two, when we pitched fits and either learned the world centered around us or we learned to get off our backs, wipe the tears and join the party on the other side of the room.
I would have expected this lesson to be central to the 1980s book by Robert Fulghum, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. I don’t remember this specific line appearing. Similar ones, yes. “Play Fair. Don’t Hit.”
But this one principle or mantra is very specific to how we as adults get along in life with our spouse, children, parents, siblings, neighbors, co-workers, bosses, people we lead.
It sounds like the self-talk end of the Golden Rule: I don’t always get my way.
The first “Raining in Uganda” video was so popular, you are demanding another one. Here is “Raining in Uganda 2.” Enjoy and keep praying for our friends in Uganda.
This was a year of transition for the Pepperdine Bible Lectures. They recorded all the keynotes and a few of the other presentations but didn't record everything. Instead, they allowed presenters to record and upload their classes via itunes. The advantage of this is that we can all retain the rights to our recordings and allow it to be completely free!
Does God speak today? Most people would say that he is silent.
Could it be that one reason God is silent is that we are silent? Do we really speak to him as if we want him to talk back?
What if we actually spoke our prayers to God–aloud–even when we’re alone? Some of you probably do that. There’s times when I’m alone in the house with God, me, and the dog. I’m talking to the dog, I’m talking to myself, I’m talking to God and I’m not sure I know the difference sometimes.
Thinking a prayer, not saying it out loud in community was likely not very common in the first few millennia of humanity when anything written that was read was read aloud. Prayers and Psalms were spoken aloud in community. This is how we got the Psalms. Augustine describes his friend, Ambrose when he read.
“When he read,” said Augustine, “his eyes scanned the page and his heart sought out the meaning, but his voice was silent and his tongue was still. Anyone could approach him freely and guests were not commonly announced, so that often, when we came to visit him, we found him reading like this in silence, for he never read aloud.”
Hannah (1 Samuel) was thought to be drunk when she prayed moving her lips but without speaking.
Some of us are mouthing words, giving lip service, but it’s not ourselves but some alter ego or mimicking . . .
Robert Benson tells a story about Beattie who prays and God seems to always hear and respond. Beattie prays for a man’s back to heal, and the next day the man reports he is pain free. Beattie prays the rain will stop after a long bought of floods. And the rain stops. Benson says that he tried praying like his friend Beattie but nothing seemed to happen.
What was wrong? Was he not sincere? Was sin standing in the way? What red tape had come between he and God? Did he need to make his requests to God through someone more spiritual like Beattie? Get a quorum before the Lord through Facebook prayer requests so more people praying, maybe God would listen?
Benson says one day he finally realized that perhaps God was not answering his prayers because he was trying to pray like Beattie and not like Robert Benson. He was a fraud before God.
I confess I’ve been a fraud. I’ve asked God to rubber stamp my plans instead of humbly and openly asking God for his wisdom and complete direction on a matter. Perhaps God is unwilling to speak to me because he knows I’ve already decided and all I want is his rubber stamp.
What if I came to God with no pretense? What if I asked God to show me what to say, what to do on a daily basis, with tough decisions, with career and family and church decisions? What if God is not speaking to me because whenever I talk back to God all I’m doing is mimicking someone else’s prayers, asking for rubber stamps, and sinfully and selfishly asking only for what I want without caring one dry fig about what he really wants!
Praying aloud is a metaphor for asking God for his rule and reign in our lives. The act of saying out loud, “God, what do you want me to do today?” is an act of giving over control and power. For some of us, in the face of asking God for direction everyday, we’d rather just tough it out on our own. In reality, that’s what most of us are doing.
What if our first words aloud are, “God, I confess I don’t really want you to be in charge of my life and speak back to me because I’m afraid you’ll tell me to do stuff I don’t want to do . . . still, I want to know . . . What do you want me to do?”
Related articles and authors
Three years ago ACU Press, a film crew, Randy Harris, and I set out to make a film that would give Christian churches all over the world access to Randy Harris’s teaching that combines great scholarship, humor, but most of all his focus on living the gospel of Christ. The 2-DVD set is priced in such a way that anyone who ever has bought a movie can also buy this $25 DVD set.
Every small group, every class, even individuals and families can own it and use it, and it has more than 2 hours of content on the DVDs for $25. A lot of video series these days sell for 4-5 times that or space out the content into multiple DVDs you buy over time. We decided to make this accessible and affordable, and it’s working.
Living Jesus: How the Greatest Sermon Ever Will Change Your Life for Good and the companion book, Living Jesus: Doing What Jesus Says in the Sermon on the Mount are selling well, and the DVD set is in the 3rd “pressing” and continuing to be shipping all over the nation and even places in the world. Order at http://www.leafwoodpublishers.com
On a visit to help a village learn the Water4.org method of water well drilling, we stayed with long-time friends James and Margaret Okumu, who live on a picturesque close to the border of Uganda and Kenya.
In the video below I’m following the group as we walk across a rickety bridge over the swamp. There are many of these bridges to navigate. The night before we walked over these bridges in the dark. James Okumu rides his motorcycle on these.
Because it is so difficult to pass here, it prevents commerce that could otherwise be done and allows for a lot of shady business between the borders. For many years this village area, called Budoola and Buwembe, heard politicians tell them they’d receive a new road over the swamp.
James told me shortly after we were there walking on this bridge, that the government came and build new culverts and a road through this swamp.
Much is made about going to build buildings in developing nations, schools, orphanages. This is good, but consider if you are an engineer or builder what can be done to build roads where people can simply use them to transport goods to market more easily. Much can be done by engineers and roads to help make people’s lives better.
Engineers and designers of the world chime in here. I want to hear from you.
Some of you who have heard of what Kibo Group (kibogroup.org) does, have heard us talk about eating chapatis, and more than just a good food, many Ugandans make and sell as a small business. There are so many small business opportunities for Ugandans, like getting a little sigiri (charcoal cooker) and making these fried tortillas that have some roots I think in India and that are called chapatis.
Here are some things I did in the first 15 years of writing, starting when I was 15:
- Kept a journal and wrote whenever possible, ideas, sermon notes, observations from Bible reading or prayers, funny stories.
- In 1990 I started a list of good stories.
- Got a degree in print journalism because I wanted to write.
- While doing that I wrote, working for the school newspaper, alumni office, public relations offices of my school.
- Edited the school newspaper my senior year of college.
- Wrote umpteen papers in grad school.
- Wrote letters, newsletters for various organizations, volunteered to write things for people, did resumes for people, wrote family stories and collaborated on a family book.
- Read good books and took note of what good writing is like, how I felt when I read it, the mechanics of making it happen.
- I met and stayed in touch with good people who write.
- I wrote when I didn’t feel like writing, but I wrote.
That briefly covers the first 15 years of my writing life, and I haven’t gotten to actually publishing a magazine article, book, or anything more public than a few hundred people. Next post I’ll tell you about the next 15 years.
If you’ve ever been to Uganda, you’ve probably been caught in the rain there, somewhere. And if you don’t have anywhere to go–even if you do–it’s sometimes nice to just sit on the stoop and watch, specially if you’ve got a cup of hot chai and a chapati or “g-nuts” (peanuts) in your hand.