We often hear about the "Christian Right," or "Conservative Christians." Yet, if you think about it, Jesus was the original liberal.  He cared about motives more than the deeds themselves (Matthew 23:5 & Mark 12:41-43) and more about compassion than adhering to rules (Luke 6:1-11 & Luke 13:10-17). This blog will reflect liberal Christian values of compassion, tolerance, mercy, charity, a thirst for knowledge & understanding, and, above all, love.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Ironing Out My Prayers

“And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” ~ Matthew 6: 7-8

Having spent my first twenty years as a Mormon and the next twenty years as an agnostic, as I approach my fiftieth birthday I still consider myself to be a relatively new Christian. Picture a duckling paddling around theological waters.

As a result, I’ve struggled with my prayers. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I have mastered, “God, get me through this.” I whip that Beauty out several times a week. I’m referring to my daily, (turn the noise off, clear my mind, and connect with God) prayer time.

My first pastor recommended reading a chapter of scripture before each daily prayer in order to center myself. It took 2.5 years, but I read the entire Bible that way. It worked, with the exception of Numbers, which could bore an accountant.

The technique still works, helping me obtain the right frame of mind to pray. My problem became editing. I was constantly adding family members, friends, and causes to pray for. My prayers became recitals of a wish list, as if I was a good little boy sitting on Santa’s lap.

I didn't want my prayers to be long lists of requests, but I didn't know who, or what, to leave out, without feeling guilty. Then I read Matthew 6. Jesus explained that our Father knows what we need when we pray.

This idea took a great deal of proverbial weight from my shoulders. I no longer feel like I need to make a list and mention each, and every, person I know, whose going through something. I can ask for a blessing for the people in my life, and God knows who they are.

Besides said request, and a request for forgiveness (which is always badly needed) the rest of the prayer can be spent thanking, and praising, the Lord. This kind of daily prayer feels more comfortable to me.

My drawing of The Holy Trinity & 2 Angels
next to my typical daily prayer

Sunday, January 5, 2020

The Value Of Work

“Therefore, I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore, do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Therefore, do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”
~ Matthew 6: 25-34

I have trouble with Matthew 6: 25-34. To read it, it can be interpreted to mean we shouldn't work to feed and clothe ourselves; as long as we believe, God will provide. While I believe in God, I don't buy the idea that he wants us to kick back and depend on him for every little thing.

1 Timothy 5:18 says, "For the Scripture says, 'You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,' and, 'The laborer deserves his wages.'" This tells me there's value in doing work for on honest wage to provide for ourselves and our families.

Perhaps the passage from Matthew 6: 25-34 is about balancing one’s priorities. It’s a way of saying we’re not supposed to value food, drink, and clothing over our relationship with Christ. The Book of Matthew may be cautioning us to not fixate on the leather jacket at Macy’s, or the new pasta recipe, when we’re supposed to be listening to the sermon.