Tag Archives: communicate

Dangerous Newness of Jesus

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, February 22, 2018

2 Cor 10-10 Paul in person, words

Dangerous Newness of Jesus

I am striving (and struggling) to do my Lenten devotional, as has happened for years. It is not because of the reading material! No, the book of short reflections called Meeting God in Paul by Rowan Williams is a fascinating read. (Did I mention that I love the clarity of Prof. Williams’ writing?) No, I have struggled to have regular devotions for years. God knows. (And, we have had many conversations about this, over the years.) But, I was fascinated by the readings set for this week.

As I read the assigned chapters from 2 Corinthians, 10 and 11, I was struck again by Paul’s forcefulness in speech. Sure, he might have been a less-than-impressive figure in person. I know—from what he wrote—that he was fully aware of that. However, that did not stop him from being forceful, convincing, and persuasive in his letters. I have no doubt in eloquence in speech (and sermons), too.

I went back to Williams’ introduction, just to refresh my memory. I was struck by what he said: “…we need to have at least some sense also of the social world and the world of ideas Paul inhabits…It helps to have some feeling for this, otherwise we shall miss the moments when he is being most courageous and creative, when the dangerous newness of what has happened because of Jesus most clearly comes through for him.” [1]

What a statement! “Dangerous newness.” Almost two thousand years after the fact, having been raised in an atmosphere where the Biblical figures and the Old and New Testaments were fairly common references in literary culture, it’s difficult for me to separate myself from my “pre-set,” from the ideas and concepts that I learned about the apostle Paul from school-age (1960’s and 70’s) to seminary, shortly after 2000. Yet, reading 2 Corinthians 10 and 11 once again brought this newness starkly to my attention.

How can I tell others about the newness of Jesus? Of His love for me, and of His very Good News? In the 21st century, as modern culture is becoming less and less knowledgeable and welcoming to the Gospel message, the news about Jesus Christ is gaining dangerous newness, again.

How can I communicate this? Dear God, I wonder. Help me learn how to reach out effectively, in this day and age. Help me to understand better how to tell others about You, I pray.



Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my companion blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

[1] Meeting God in Paul: Reflections for the Season of Lent, Rowan Williams (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2015), xi.

PEACE – Knowing Jesus is in Control (Repost)

This repost is especially for the Facebook page Pursuing Peace. (And, thank you to Bethesda Worship Center!)

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Friday, February 26, 2016

tranquility - Jesus gives

PEACE – Knowing Jesus is in Control

The last day of definitions from Bethesda Worship Center in Des Plaines, and the last day I would sincerely like to apologize. There was a malfunction with my digital camera. Sadly, I was unable to take photos of the dear folks in Des Plaines on Sunday. I do thank Pastor Chuck Reid for offering his smart phone as a last-minute replacement! (My advanced-beginner expertise with social media is showing … in that I couldn’t get the dratted thing to send photos!)

However, I persevere. So, this is the last day—and the last definition. Today’s personal view of PEACE comes from Barbara Reid, Pastor Chuck’s wife. Barbara’s personal definition of PEACE: “knowing Jesus is in complete control of my life.”

As I talked with Barbara, she gave me a great expansion on that definition. “Jesus is God in the flesh; Savior, Master, salvation. Knowing that He, the Author of peace, is in control of me and of my life? That is truly peace for me.”

Sister Barbara said so many excellent things. She gave several outstanding words and phrases to describe what PEACE is, for her. However, I would like to focus on her expression “Author of peace.” Barbara is quoting from 1 Corinthians 14. The apostle says, “God is not a God of confusion, but of peace.”

That is truly peace. Not confusion, not disorder, but instead peace and orderliness.

What sprang to my mind after that? Nature. The animal kingdom, and the plant kingdom. The order found there, which is so sensible. So structured. So logical.

Dear Lord, thank You for order. Thank You for making certain that people have both rhyme and reason to their lives, their purpose, their very souls. I praise Your name and Your wish to communicate Your love each and every day. Great is Your fathfulness and love!


Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my sister blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.   @chaplaineliza  And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

PEACE – Knowing Jesus is in Control #matterofprayer #PursuePEACE   http://wp.me/p43g3i-sM

PEACE: Friendship and Love

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, April 7, 2016


PEACE: Friendship and Love

I’m coming to an end of another section of young people from St. Viator’s High School in Arlington Heights. Fascinating, energizing opportunity to talk with many young people and ask their personal viewpoints on PEACE.

Megan’s personal definition: “PEACE is international friendship.” 🙂

That was awesome. I wanted to know more. Megan replied, “International friendship to me is friendship over social media, over international borders. I feel the connection!” I asked whether she had lots of international friends, and she nodded, excited!

Such a wonderful way to communicate—instantly! And, with people from all over the world, too. I had an international pen pal when I was in grade school, but it took a long time for those blue air mail envelopes to wing their way back and forth. Much better and simpler, now.

Ally’s personal definition: “PEACE is giving unending love ❤ to one other.”


I asked her for more about that definition. She said, readily, “Loving one another, no matter what the circumstances. Love is the most important thing—no matter what.”

Ally, that is not only a marvelous sentiment, it’s what our Lord Jesus said, too. He told His disciples in the Upper Room Discourse to “love one another.” That is one of the final commands we have from our Lord.

If more people could love one another—no matter what—then there would be a great deal more peace in the world today.

Dear Lord, gracious God, You have heard all of our prayers for PEACE. Hearken to our prayers. Help us to live out PEACEFUL ideas. Lord, in Your mercy, hear all of our prayers.


Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my sister blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.   @chaplaineliza  And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

Daily Prayers? Or Everyday Prayers?

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Saturday, October 17, 2015

Martha and Mary (Luke 10) by He Qi

Martha and Mary (Luke 10) by He Qi

Daily Prayers? Or Everyday Prayers?

O, God! What intentional prayers these are! And, how ordinary, everyday. Not extra special or out of the ordinary, at all. The prayer I chose for today from The Oxford Book of Prayer concerns “Give Us This Day” (Prayer 330, page 102) [1] The prayer is in a section entitled Daily.

This prayer has the subscript “Prayer of Chinese Christian women.” I know just a little about the extreme difficulties Chinese Christians have had, over most of the last one hundred years. My dear prayer partner for several years is a naturalized American citizen, born in mainland China. I feel a tenderness and appreciation for many things Chinese, and for the many different cultural, ethnic, sociological and geographic expressions that can be found in that fascinating, vast, multi-varied country.

This prayer contains some everyday activities, and then mentions appropriate, moving words to bring that particular activity into close focus. And, into God’s special care. I’ll mention a few.

“Prayer when washing clothes: I pray Thee, Lord, to wash my heart, making me white as snow.” O, Lord! Such a straight-forward prayer. So honest, forthright. Digging down deep into my chest and grabbing my heart. Lord, indeed. Make me white as snow.

“Prayer when posting a letter: I pray Thee, Lord, to add to me faith upon faith, that I may always have communication with Thee.” Lord, I can tell this was from an earlier time, since letters are not as common as they once were. But, isn’t a clear line of communication a desire that transcends time? Didn’t people in the first century wish to communicate with You clearly? So do the people of the twenty-first century, as well.

“Prayer when watering flowers: I pray Thee, Lord, to send down spiritual rain into my heart, to germinate the good seed there.” Gracious God, how clearly these ladies cry out to You! And not just to You, but for Your spiritual rain to water their dry, thirsty lives. How moving!

“Prayer when boiling water for tea: I pray Thee, Lord, to send down spiritual fire to burn away the coldness of my heart, and that I may always be hot’hearted in serving Thee.” Lord, such a common activity! So, so many people from that area of the world boil water for tea. Such an ordinary thing to do, to take place in this.prayer of everyday things. Yet, my heart is often cold. I do need God’s help in warming it up!

Dear Lord, thank You for these common sense prayers. I could see myself in each one of them. Gracious God, help me to keep my eyes on You. That way, You’ll help me stick with my path. Thank You, God, for Your loving presence with me, all throughout the day. (And night, too.)


Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my sister blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.   @chaplaineliza And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

[1] The Oxford Book of Prayer, edited by George Appleton. (New York: Oxford University Press, reissued 2009), 102.

Day #24 – Chocolate for Everyone? Hmm.

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Chocolate illustration Credit - Michael Toland

Chocolate illustration
Credit – Michael Toland

Day #24 – Chocolate for Everyone? Hmm.

Hmm. As I read today’s suggestion—giving out chocolate freely, to one and all—I had an initial reaction. And, my reaction was not all that positive. I grew up in Chicago. Yes, I grew up in a decent area on the northwest side, but still . . . some of those street smarts that I grew up with are still inside of me. Still active, when awakened.

Like when I read this suggestion. It has been drummed into my head to be cautious when traversing the city. When walking, or on public transportation. On buses or elevated trains or subways. On top of that, when my children were small, I used to take them trick or treating around the neighborhood, on Halloween. I would be careful where I went–which houses we went to.

So, while today’s suggestion seems a perfectly lovely idea, something deep inside me said, “Nope.” Sure, some people would happily take the chocolate. However, others would toss it. Either on the street, or in the nearest garbage can. (Sorry, but that‘s the way some folks are. Suspicious, anxious, and even mean-spirited.)

Good thing I was attending a conference today! Accordingly, I bought a small bag of chocolates, and passed them out freely. To those sitting at the table with me, during the morning keynote address, to those at the lunch table, and to several people at the afternoon session. Plus, I was able to share about Lent, and 40 positive acts of generosity, and how doing 40 acts of generosity and kindness will have an impact on my church, my workplace, and my neighborhood.

I think I covered it. (How am I doing? Was that accurate?)

So, I hope I communicated about #40acts well. I pray so. Lord, bring those chocolates to those dear people’s minds. Help them to remember about 40 acts. And most importantly, about You, too.


Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

(Check out #40acts; doing Lent generously at www.40acts.org.uk )

Why not visit my sister blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.   @chaplaineliza And read #40acts sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er .

Day #16 – Turn It Off. Off the Hook. And Pray.

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Saturday, March 7, 2015

cell phone illustration

Day #16 – Turn It Off. Off the Hook. And Pray.

Have you ever attended a silent retreat?

I attended a Lenten silent retreat today. Wonderful. Restful. Soul-searching, too. The retreat focused on the Lord’s Prayer. However, God wanted to bring much more than that to me.

One of the retreat leaders, Jay (my marvelous spiritual director), told us we were to turn off our cell phones as we entered into the retreat time. Having some concerted time, all morning and all afternoon to concentrate on myself and my relationship with God, the last thing I needed was a telephone call. Even, a telephone text.

I had left my cell phone at home, since I knew how tempting it would be to check calls. Voicemails. Messages. Texts. Oh, how wonderful to be free of the rigors and bother of a cell phone! At least, for a few hours.

God did communicate several interesting matters to me. One was especially profound. As I went through the petitions of the Lord’s Prayer through the day, certain things surfaced. Questions I was asked included: Are there particular areas of your life in which you long to encounter God? How in your life are you aware of your need for God’s provision—both material and spiritual? For what do you need to seek God’s forgiveness? And, what personal obstacles or temptations are you encountering in life; in what ways have you taken these to God?

Today was a fruitful, peaceful time of encounter with God. Prayer, meditation, and resting in God.

And, yes. I also tried to follow today’s suggestion for #40acts. Being on the retreat only magnified (in a good way) the silence and stillness. And, I did not even notice the absence of the cell phone until the retreat was over.

I also found I was able to listen to God much more clearly. Leaving my cell phone at home? A great idea! For at least a little while.

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

(Check out #40acts; doing Lent generously at www.40acts.org.uk )

Why not visit my sister blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.   @chaplaineliza And read #40acts sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er .

Mention Friends in Prayer?

matterofprayer blog post for Thursday, August 21, 2014

PRAY hug friends with prayers

Mention Friends in Prayer?

Periodically, I get comments from random people about prayer. Yes, there are the scoffers who deny the existence of any kind of a Supreme Being. But right now, I’m thinking about people who have lots of different ideas on how prayer actually works.

The last thing in the world that I want to do is to set myself up as a maven of all things prayer-related. Heavens, no! However, I do know some elementary things about prayer and meditation. I try to communicate with God regularly. I try to mention my family in prayer, especially my children. I try to remember my congregation, my friends. And, I try to mention those who people ask me to remember in prayer.

Sometimes, certain people seem to think that God is a vending machine in the sky. They put in their order, or they choose from the selection they see on offer, and they expect God to deliver. On demand. At a time of their choosing. (This is especially problematic when it comes to praying for the outcome of sporting events . . . ) Yes, I have prayed for games and competitions, but I usually pray for each person involved. I ask God to help each one do the very best that they can, and I also pray for clean competition—no fouls or mean-spirited nonsense! (That goes for the fans, too.)

But what about praying for those in poor health? Or for those who are even seriously ill? I am reminded of the U.S. doctor who contracted the Ebola virus some days ago. Today he is being released from the hospital. He worked for a mission agency, and I am sure countless thousands of people were praying for him and his family. I am sure God was concerned about him and his family, just as God is concerned for each and every person around the world who has a serious, life-threatening disease.

I know each person goes through life. Accidents happen. Jobs are lost, companies move, sudden events occur. And I know joy comes into people’s lives: children are born, people graduate from school, weddings are celebrated, people buy houses or businesses or other properties. In other words, life continues to happen. The business of living goes on, in countless lives all over the world.

I want to stress—God is with each of us, amidst the little things. In the center of the darkest night, in the middle of the most joyous event, God is right there, next to each of us. The Apostle Paul comments on this at the beginning of his first letter to the church at Thessalonica. He made mention of his fellow believers in prayer. Not only the nearby believers, and not only those in Thessalonica, but also those who were scattered, and far away. In Paul’s time, there were no antibiotics. Few doctors. And many more accidents and mishaps. He knew what dangers were out there. Paul wanted to stress the fellowship we could have with each other—in prayer. Near or far, in encouragement and support.

Remember that old advertising slogan from Ma Bell? “Reach out and touch someone.” That is what prayer can do. That is what prayer can be for each other, whether near or far.

Let’s pray. God, we thank You for the example of our brother Paul. He said in 1 Thessalonians 1 that he made regular mention of the believers in his prayers. Help us to reach out to support others, care for them, and journey with them in prayer. For a little while, at least. Thank You for Your presence with us, through the good times, the stressful times, the scary times, and the sorrowful times. Help us to follow You more nearly, and to pray more faithfully. We pray in Your grace and mercy, amen.


(also published at www.matterofprayer.net Shortlink: