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"Who Is Willing to Give Far More" - 16 January 2022

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  Almighty and Everliving God, you who are more ready to hear than we are to pray and are willing to give far more than either we desire or deserve, hear us and for Christ’s sake answer us. Most loving Father, who has called us into your family by the Gospel of Jesus Christ and by the working of your Holy Spirit, give us strength and desire to walk worthy of our calling, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity produced by the Spirit in the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:1-3). We ask you to aid and support Dan and Carol Iverson in Japan; the Pardigons; Dan and Becky Young in North Mexico; Wilson Van Hooser RUF-OSU, Scott Morris RUF-OU, and Caleb Harlan at RUF-TU. Grant to them goodwill, safety, reliable co-laborers and all the financial resources they need in their mission work; and may their labor produce more than they could humanly concoct. Look upon your Church throughout the world, along with these congregat

"Zeal for Godliness" - A Book Review

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  "Zeal for Godliness" came, unsolicited, in the mail from the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, but it intrigued me. Here was a 270-page hardback that worked through all of John Calvin's "Institutes of the Christian Religion" in concise, summary, devotional form! It is easy-to-read, and tackles much that Calvin wrote in his Institutes. It's perfect for those who have read Calvin's four volumes, and for those who haven't read them because they're intimidated. The editor(s) aimed "to display the coherence, trustworthiness, and glory of biblical truth for all ages" (12), and especially how John Calvin developed biblical truth. I think they hit their target. The work unfolds with the section of Calvin's institutes the writer is referring to at the top of the page. Then, the commenter discusses what is in that section on only one page. Sometimes a salient sentence or paragraph from the Institutes is quoted, but most times it is a sum

"Mansfield's Book of Manly Men" by Stephen Mansfield. A Review

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  In some ways, it was a fun book. with all of the stories and simplicity. In other ways, it was a thought-provoking volume. Mansfield addresses manhood from a mostly biblical perspective. Why? As he states, "Manhood is suffering today. Men seem to be confused about what God wants them to be and about how to live out their manly calling" (xv). If that was the case in 2013 when he wrote the book, it is clearly more so today. I expected it to slide into chest-thumping bravado and Archie Bunker style braggadocio. But instead, the author has a better concept of manliness. The book feels like it's dipping its toes in the weird waters of self-centered mansplaining and chauvinism when it comes to chapters like "Quest" or "Wildness"  or when it talks about belonging to the tribe of men. But the overwhelming direction of the book maps out ways of manhood that take wholesome masculinity into the realm of service, protection, forgiveness, humility, friendship, an

Seasons of Life/Vocations Prayer - 9 January 2022

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  LORD God, you told your people, “ Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation. You shall do no work. It is a Sabbath to the LORD in all your dwelling places ” (Leviticus 23:3) . Your directive not only tells us how important sacred rest is, but it also points out how valuable our vocations are; that we have callings, jobs, and careers that are good and worth investing into during the vast majority of our week. Thank you for acknowledging our work, and O Lord, hear our prayer. Almighty God, you worked six days, making, creating, and calling all things into order. We ask your help, direction and focus in our jobs. Honestly, Father, work can grind down our hearts; bosses can grate against us making Monday a sheer drudgery; customers and clients can almost make us pull our hair out with frustration. Therefore, help us to recapture and be recaptured by Paul’s valuable reminder, “ whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in th

"Our Help Is in the Name of the LORD" - 9 January 2022

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  Our help is in the name of the LORD, who made heaven and earth (Psalm 124:8). Lord, please hear us and for Christ’s sake answer us.   O God Most High, who uses our trials to test our faith and to bring about steadfast endurance in us (James 1:2-3), we ask you to lift up those who are dispirited in body or mind, those who are grieved or terribly troubled with fear and anxiety, and those who are walking through troubled times in home and health. We especially ask your care for these (…). Grant them recovery and restored health.   O Lord of the Harvest, have regard to the prayers of your servants in this congregation; send us forth as laborers into your harvest; make us fit and prepared by your grace for our vocation and ministry; increase in us the Spirit of power, love and sobermindedness while removing the spirit of fear (2 Timothy 1:7); strengthen us to endure hardships as good soldiers of Jesus Christ (2 Timothy 2:3); and grant that your Holy Spirit may prosper our work, so that by

"Now and Not Yet" by Dean R. Ulrich. A Book Review

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  Now and Not Yet: Theology and Mission in Ezra-Nehemiah Dean R. Ulrich IVP Academic www.ivpress.com ISBN: 978-1-5140-0407-4; $28.00; 21 December 2021  The biblical books Ezra and Nehemiah are a strain for many readers. Filled, as they are, with genealogies, historical tales, building projects, outside pressures, and troubled communities. Most times these books get rustled up and put into motivational sermons for the latest Church Building Campaign or lessons on leadership. For example, many years ago while I was stationed at an air base in the upper Midwest, I was taking night classes and working on my bachelor’s at a local Christian university. One of my classes was on leadership, and our reading assignment was a volume that elevated Nehemiah as a paragon of exemplary leadership. Thankfully, Dean R. Ulrich, biblical studies professor at several institutions nationally and internationally, and accomplished author, has penned a scholarly 218-page softback on these two books i

"We Thank You for Your Constant Care" - Congregational Prayer on the First Sunday of 2022

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  We thank you for your constant care for us personally and as a congregation, loving Father. We thank you for how you have been pleased to bring many people into this congregation’s life over the years; and we thank you for bringing us to a new year.   O God of Israel, we join with Jabez as we pray over this coming year. Bless us and make us a channel of blessing to others, especially your Abrahamic blessing that in Abraham’s offspring all the nations of the earth will be blessed. And in that regard, do enlarge our sphere of influence giving us a bit more space in your world rescue operation. But, Lord, keep your hand on us, because (as Martin Luther prayed), “if ever I should be on my own, I would easily wreck it all.” Yes, may your hand ever be on us. And do, please, liberate us from the hostage situation of the futile ways inherited from our forebears, keeping us from evil that we may not cause pain (1 Chronicles 4:9-10). May it be said of us that we are a most honorable people.