Weekly Writings

An Inaugural Request

By Dr. Sid Webb

January 21, 2021

As the United States has turned over its federal leadership, I am reminded of what the Apostle Paul told us in 1 Timothy 2:1-4:

“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”


It seems to be a universal truth that humans will devote themselves to gossip long before they’ll devote themselves to prayer. For every sentence spoken in prayer there are probably hundreds of sentences spoken in a non-edifying way. There’s something about humanity’s fallen nature that drives us to gripe rather than to praise, encourage, or build up.


Every four years, approximately half of Americans are specifically challenged as to their prayer lives; namely, can they follow Scripture’s mandate and pray for the candidate (now President) that they disliked so much? They are faced with the questions, “Can I recognize this candidate as my President? Will I pray for him?”


I am not so naive to think that all candidates will do all things to the public good and the glorification of God. I know that they won’t. Even if they were to have the best of intentions always, they wouldn’t get everything right. And if their intentions are evil . . . well, we better pray that God stays their hand.


It’s always struck me that Paul’s command to pray for public leaders was given in the context of the Roman Empire, when an emperor had the power to take a person’s life. That’s what happened to Paul a few years after he wrote 1 Timothy; Emperor Nero had him decapitated in AD67.


And yet, a few years before his execution, Paul told us to pray for those exact leaders who would terminate his life.


Paul couldn’t have made it more clear that we must pray for our leaders. In case there was any doubt, he painted with a broad prayer brush, using several of the common words for prayer. Supplicate. Pray. Intercede. Give thanks. Using four words back-to-back for prayer? That’s rare. Paul is getting our attention and telling us:


We cannot evade our responsibility to pray for our political leaders, even if we despise them.


And to drive home the clarity, he makes sure that Yes! We are to pray for political leaders: For kings (those in the highest office) and for ALL officials in high positions. It wouldn’t be off course for a Christian to pray for every key official in an administration, every Cabinet secretary, every Joint Chief of Staff, and every Supreme Court justice BY NAME.


And we pray for these leaders not just for their benefit but so that we may lead peaceful, quiet, godly, dignified lives. So that we are allowed to prosper and so that our relationships with our government are constructive and beneficial.


Please join me in prayer that our new administration would be righteous, godly, peaceful, loving, dignified, and just. And that those blessings would roll down upon We the People like a mighty wave.


God Listens

By Scott Eaton

January 13, 2021

Psalm 34:15 - “The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous and His ears are open to their cry."

 

It seems like yesterday, but when my boys were small, I remember vividly that when they had something to tell me, they wanted me to look directly at them. There were times while listening that I’d get distracted and look away, which resulted in a touch from a small hand turning my head back to make eye contact.  It’s funny, but quite often we all like to have eye contact with those we are speaking to. It’s an indicator that attention is given and what is being said is valued. 

 

For those of us who have a relationship with Jesus Christ, we have access to the only true, living and wise God.  The One who created all things desires fellowship with us in prayer. 

When we communicate to God in prayer, we can be confident that we have His attention and that He hears us.  Now this doesn’t mean that He always acts and works exactly the way we would like. That’s why it’s important for us to pray in accordance with His will. So why should we pray? To build on our relationship with Him. To express our need and dependence on Him. To praise Him and tell Him how much we love Him. To express our gratitude to Him for who He is and all He has done. 

 

In 1973 singer, song writer Ken Medema wrote a song about prayer.  It’s a reminder to us that in prayer we can draw upon God’s Spirit, love, power and grace. 

Here’s the chorus:

 

 “Lord, listen to your children praying, Lord, send Your Spirit in this place; 

  Lord, listen to your children praying, Send us love, send us power, send us grace.”

 

We should never take for granted the glorious privilege we have to communicate to our God in prayer. When we pray, He listens, but when HE speaks, we should be still!

 

Jeremiah 29:12-13

“Then you will call on Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart.”

 

Psalm 66:17-20

I cried out to Him with my mouth; His praise was on my tongue.  If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened; but God has surely listened and has heard my prayer.  Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld His love from me.”

Mom Bag

By Alice Holt

January 8, 2021

In the mid 90s a movie One Fine Day came out staring Michelle Pfeiffer and George Clooney. The movie revolved around a single day of chaos as the two single parents tried to trade off and work together while they each had their child with them during a work day. The Mom had the solution to everything in her “Mom Bag”. No matter what happened in their day she dug into her bag and miraculously found something to solve their dilemma, even to the extent of having her son’s dinosaur shirt she was able to wear under her suit jacket for a formal meeting.


I confess I have a Mom Bag; in fact, I asked for and received a new Mom Bag for Christmas. My Mom Bag doesn’t quite have the miracles come out of it like in the movie, not to mention I don’t think I could wear a size 8 boys t-shirt, but I do have quite a few things that keep us going as a family when we are out and about. In fact, my family has come to depend upon me not only having my bag in the car, but present with us at all times. Everything goes off track if I don’t have “Your Bag” as our son calls it.


Of all the wonderful things a Mom could put into a bag like this there is something I think we tend to stick in our bag – or wallet, men – that shouldn’t be stuck inside. I’ve noticed how we, including myself, have a tendency to use God like an accessory or an extra something we pull out in a time of crisis. He’s not something we always need, so we stick Him in a side pocket just in case. We have lessened the majesty of God and taken advantage of the His attributes that seem to work best for us. We are great at saying we have God in our lives yet in reality we just have him stuck in our bag to use as needed.


God created us to walk and talk with Him. He created us in His image so we could have an intimate connection with Him. We will never be able to grasp the fullness of God, however, He created us in a such a way that each day allows us an opportunity to grasp who He is a little more. He offers an avenue in which to reconnect or stay connected that is simple and powerful. Prayer. Psalm 5:3 says, “In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.” Prayer is a powerful connection we have with God every second of the day. When we believe in the power of prayer, we won’t stick God in our bag, He will be our bag. He will be our source for all the answers and everything we need. Life is still life, and believing in the power of God through prayer doesn’t mean life will be all sunshine and roses. Life will, however, have a peace and steadiness to it even when things seem to be heading down a road of chaos. We will see His power at work around in us in ways we never understood before. Our trust will be greater than our fear.


I Corinthians 4:20 says, “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power.” Let’s stop talking and making life about ourselves. God has a great work to do among us. Grab your Mom Bag, aka God, and let’s get out there!


All Is Calm, All Is Bright

By Dr. Sid Webb

December 16, 2020

Because the church organ was kaput, the evening’s play was moved to a private home. A roving band of actors had come through town to reenact the story of Christ’s birth. In normal years they would have performed it at the church, but that year the venue was a living room.


            The Nativity story put the parish priest in a meditative mood. So instead of walking straight home, he took the long way round. He climbed the hill that overlooked his village of Oberndorf. Below him, Oberndorf was laden with snow.

            The priest, Joseph Mohr, stopped and marveled at the scene. Gazing down upon his peaceful and still village, he remembered a poem that he had written a couple of years before. The poem spoke of that night when the angels appeared to the gaggle of shepherds on a hillside, announcing the birth of the long-awaited Messiah.


            As he pondered, Mohr realized that the poem would make for a great Christmas carol. But Mohr had no music for it. The next day he went to see the church organist, Franz Xavier Gruber. Because the church organ needed repair and could not be used, Gruber had to be creative. The organ’s malfunction turned out to be a gift from God. Instead of a majestic organ piece, Gruber came up with a simple melody that could be played on guitar.

            On Christmas Eve, instead of being stirred by the majestic organ, the little Oberndorf congregation heard Gruber and Mohr sing their new tune to the accompaniment of Gruber’s guitar.

 

            That’s how “Silent Night” was born. Interest in the song spread, and within a few years, it had even captivated King Frederick William IV of Prussia, who requested that his nation’s Cathedral Choir sing it every year. By 1960, this simple carol was the most recorded song in music history.

 

            Silent Night” resonates because in a simple, beautiful, peaceful way, it strums the strings of our souls. It is best performed with simple instrumentation or a cappella (without instrumentation at all). Think about how comforting these lyrics are to us:

 

Silent night! holy night!

All is calm all is bright

Round yon virgin mother and child

Holy infant so tender and mild

Sleep in heavenly peace!

 

            I see some irony in the song. The trajectory of our lives is from the chaos of sin to the peace of eternal salvation. The journey of Jesus, though, was from the peace of the wooden manger to the brutal wood of the cross. His punishment, our peace.

 

            This year, more than any in a long time, we need the reminder that God is in control. He is still on the throne. While the world rages around us, we can be calm in our hearts because of the One we trust. And because of His victory over the cross, our future is bright.


            Take a moment to find a place of stillness. Breathe in, breathe out. Relax. Close your eyes and imagine Jesus on the throne, looking directly at you with a loving smile. He speaks to you: “Friend, I am resurrected to life, and I hold your life in my hands. All is well. Be at peace.”


            May we all finish 2020 with calmness in our souls. And let’s look to the years ahead with an excitement for the brightness to come.