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Prayer

On Failing French and Prayer

On Failing French and Prayer

 This one comes to us from our friend, Cort Gatliff.

When my wife, Abby, and I were dating, she told me not to bother trying to marry her unless I was willing to move to France, where she could perfect her near-fluent command of the French language. Assuming this ultimatum fell into the category of “things idealistic twentysomethings say after two glasses of wine,” I agreed. But just a year into our marriage, she called my bluff. We’re now living in an attic apartment above a pharmacy in a small, grey town in northern France.

Abby, who is teaching English at a…

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The Prayers of the Red Light District

The Prayers of the Red Light District

Another gem from Margaret Pope. 

I am very slowly working my way through Eric Metaxas’s biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German theologian who adamantly opposed Hitler’s Third Reich and helped plot Hitler’s assassination. As I read this weekend, one section of the book stood out to me. Bonhoeffer is recounting attending a church in Paris, wherein he is given a picture of grace:

On Sunday afternoon I attended an extremely festive high mass in Sacré Coeur. The people in church were almost exclusively from Montmartre; prostitutes and their men went to mass, submitted to all the ceremonies; it was an enormously impressive picture, and once again…

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Hopelessly Devoted: First Peter Chapter One Verses Three Through Seven

This post comes to us from our friend, Jim McNeely.

My friend Mike Rehmet once told a story about his wife, Gina, who likes plants but apparently doesn’t have the greenest of thumbs. She brought home a new potted plant and set it on the front porch. As they were going out, he noticed the plant there, and said, “So–this is where you’re gonna do it?”

I was thinking about that story as I read this passage recently:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a…

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The Duty vs. the Desire to Punish

The Duty vs. the Desire to Punish

A brief review of the Persistent Widow parable from Luke 18, which many folks heard at church this past Sunday. It’s a short little parable of a widow with a just grievance. The local judge, however, is corrupt, and he refuses to hear the case. So the widow relentlessly pesters the judge until he finally agrees to hear her out to “see that she gets justice.”

The point of the parable is made clear at its telling: “Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.” To quote our friend Derek Webb, there is…

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The Devil’s Whore

The Devil’s Whore

This post comes to us from our friend Laurel Marr.

Though with a scornful wonder
Men see her sore oppressed,
By schisms rent asunder,
By heresies distressed:
Yet saints their watch are keeping,
Their cry goes up, “How long?”
And soon the night of weeping
Shall be the morn of song!

(The Church’s One Foundation, v. 3)

Can the right amount of faith remove the suffering and sickness that interferes with our daily lives and our ability to faithfully serve our neighbor?  Francis MacNutt, a pioneer and a well-respected expert in the revival of the “ministry of healing,” suggests in his book Healing that by exercising faith, we can work…

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Recovering the Cross in Healing Prayer Ministry: A Conference Breakout Preview

Here is another preview of a breakout session from our upcoming conference in NYC during which Laurel Marr and Ben DeHart will be discussing the cross and healing prayer. Join us April 14-16!

Healing prayer ministries in the church today are centered on theologies of glory – beliefs that faith, positive thinking, and works are needed for personal empowerment or to alleviate sickness or poverty. Where do we turn when this isn’t working?

8242bd9abefcc938d12a39d6f9f2cd1f“Everything is possible for anyone who has faith.” (Mark 9:32)

“Have faith in God,” Jesus answered.  “Truly, I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” (Mark 11:22-24)

Have we missed the real power of prayer because of insufficient faith? The promise of God’s healing power to be released if we just rally our faith never works. The good news is that we don’t have to count on our own offerings of faith to receive God’s blessings–even healing. God does not grant any favors for prosperity ministries that proclaim law-based methods will secure more blessings for those who can live within their rigidity.

What is faith anyways? How do we find healing? We don’t find it; it finds us.

The Gospel pronounces that we are already forgiven and our justification ends conditional thinking and the language of the law. God commands us to believe and He creates faith in our hearts as he covers us with the His own righteousness. It is a condition, not a choice; a gift, not an offer. This saving faith is a result of His choice and His commitment to us, not ours to Him.

“For by grace you have been saved by faith. And it is not your own doing, it is the gift of God, no a result of works so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)

Perhaps offerings of faith for healing miracles should be considered works, and we don’t have anything God needs or wants. Faith flows from His will and work, not ours. It is time to bring healing prayer ministries to be centered on the Theology of the Cross – where the cross of Christ is the heartbeat of our faith.

Pre-register today!

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Footprints in the Sand: The Remix

Footprints in the Sand: The Remix

Growing up, “Footprints in the Sand” was the kind of Christian poetry that everyone agreed to like without question. It was like the WWJD bracelet of literature. By my middle school years it was everywhere. You could get it on a quilt, on a print, and even on actual flip flops. If I’m being really honest with you, I had to read it like 5 times before I understood what the writer was saying. My initial thoughts upon reading it were:

Wait! What happened to my feet?
Wait! Why did Jesus leave?
Wait! Did I just die?

So, after that confusing math game, I…

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Mindfulness, Meditation, and Existential Panic: What Did We Think Would Happen?

Mindfulness, Meditation, and Existential Panic: What Did We Think Would Happen?

This one comes to us from our friend Bob Guterma.

A few weeks ago, The Guardian UK published an article called, “Is mindfulness making us ill?” From starving artists to high-powered businesspeople, from The New York Times to obscure spirituality weblogs (including Mbird’s own archives), you can find people extolling the virtues of mindfulness throughout Western society. But you rarely hear talk of the potential negative effects from practicing mindfulness.

Just to make sure we’re all talking about the same thing, mindfulness is a modern cultural movement, and a cognitive and therapeutic school of thought, that espouses meditation as a means to mitigate any…

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In Spite of Everything, He Loves Me

In Spite of Everything, He Loves Me

This passage is written by Simone Weil. The French theologian and writer, Jean Sulivan writes in his Spiritual Journal Morning Light that, when he thinks about the tenderness of God, and the enigma of Christ, nothing for him describes better the longing (and pain) better than this passage from Simone Weil. 

He brought me out and made me climb into a garret (an attic). Through the open window one could see the whole city spread out, some wooden scaffoldings, and the river on which boats were being unloaded. He bade me be seated.

We were alone. He spoke. From time to time someone would enter,…

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Just Like That Bluebird: The Mortal Prayers of David Bowie, RIP

Just Like That Bluebird: The Mortal Prayers of David Bowie, RIP

Gutted by this morning’s tragic news about the death of David Bowie. His incredible new single “Lazarus” had actually been on repeat in our office the past couple weeks. By way of paltry tribute, here’s the reflection from the back of A Mess of Help, slightly embellished. The world will be a duller place without him:

Rumor has it that David Bowie lobbied for the role of grand elf Elrond in Peter Jackson’s adaptation of The Lord of The Rings. As good as Hugo Weaving was, Bowie would have been better, and not just because he played more or less to type in…

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Michel Quoist Hits Temptation

Michel Quoist Hits Temptation

From Prayers of Life. This section sounds like a modern mixture of Jesus calming the storm (Mt 8) and the psalmist’s cry in the night (Ps 6). Quoist then gives us God’s response.

I’m at the end of my rope, Lord.
I am shattered.
I am broken.
Since this morning I have been struggling to escape temptation, which, now wary, now persuasive, now tender, now sensuous, dances before me like a seductive girl at a fair.
I don’t know what to do.
I don’t know where to go.
It spies on me, follows me, engulfs me.
When I leave a room I find it seated and waiting for…

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A Sleep Poem by Wendell Berry

From the 1990 selection of Sabbath poems.

The body in the invisible
Familiar room accepts the gift
Of sleep, and for a while is still;
Instead of will, it lives by drift

In the great night that gathers up
The earth and sky. Slackened, unbent,
Unwanting, without fear or hope,
The body rests beyond intent.

Sleep is the prayer the body prays,
Breathing in unthought faith the Breath
That through our worry-wearied days
Preserves our rest, and is our truth.