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Sunday, February 17, 2019

"We Implore You" - 17 February 2019

O Lord God, we implore you to make us a holy, joy-filled people in our homes, occupations, and our various networks of friends. May those who are married be free of strife, pettiness, and fear; may those who are single be chaste and holy, enjoying you in their God-ward singleness; may the children grow stronger in grace and wisdom, loving you all their days while obeying and honoring their fathers and mothers; may the parents raise their children in faithfulness and godliness; and may the elderly flourish in God-given strength, patience, and sound-mindedness. Also please help us to be the kind of church that is instrumental in drawing the straying back to Christ and his church and bringing unbelievers into your family by trusting in your Son Jesus Christ. Hear us as we recall before you those who are on our hearts…

O Lord God, we pray for your Church in all nations, and these churches in the OKC area: Iglesia Christiana Rey-gloria, Memorial Christian, Midwest Blvd Christian, and New Hope Christian Church. Grant your Church to live out the righteousness, peace and joy which are in the Holy Spirit; to pursue what makes for peace and mutual upbuilding (Romans 14.17, 19); and to turn neither to the right hand or the left. And where she has jumped the tracks and derailed, reorient her course, and send her in the right direction once more. We also ask you to intervene in the General Convention of the United Methodist Church this month. Govern their discussions and debates; correct misleading mindsets and support your truth. Mightily defend your own holy declarations that “that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God…neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”  But also, mightily defend your Gospel hope: “And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6.9-11).

O Lord God, please strengthen, assist, and give a renewed buoyancy to those in need…

O Lord God, please be with our nation, national leaders, and our State leaders. Graciously help us all to recognize when we do evil and injustice, to amend our ways and correct our directions. May neither peace nor prosperity blind our eyes or deafen our ears to you, or to the cries of those being unfairly treated. Grant us to sustain and support justice and liberty for all, unborn, foreign born, or freeborn.

O Lord God, please be with all world leaders. We pray for an end to all wars, to all natural or man-made famines, pestilences, droughts, and plagues. We pray for an end to abortion in our land and world over, and an end to the crimes of slave trafficking and prostituting of women and children. In this regard, and based on your words to us, we make bold to pray for MS-13, ISIS, Boko-Haram, the Lord’s Resistance Army, Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, Aryan Nations, and all other destructive alliances. Bring them to repentance and faith in Christ – individually and personally, but also as a whole. And if they will not, then Lord, we pray on behalf of those crushed under their jackbooted thuggery, and we pray with the Psalmist, “O God, break the teeth in their mouths; tear out the fangs of the young lions, O LORD! Let them vanish like water that runs away; when he aims his arrows, let them be blunted. Let them be like the snail that dissolves into slime, like the stillborn child who never sees the sun” (Psalm 58.6-8).

O Lord God, we ask all this because you are good. In Christ’s name we pray. Amen.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

"The Codependency Recovery Plan" by Krystal Mazzola. A Review

The Codependency Recovery Plan: A 5-Step Guide to Understand, Accept, and Break Free from the Codependent CycleThe Codependency Recovery Plan: A 5-Step Guide to Understand, Accept, and Break Free from the Codependent Cycle by Krystal Mazzola MEd LMFT
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It's a very readable book. The author shows writing skill, keeps readers' attention, and easily guides them along the path. "The Co-dependency Recovery Plan: A 5-Step Guide to Understand, Accept, and Break Free from the Codependent Cycle" is a 170 page softback made to instruct and give practice. Krystal Mazzola is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist living in Phoenix, Arizona, co-owner and practicing therapist at Dantia Wellness, who has some skin in this rugby scrum called co-dependency. The manuscript is clearly written, and obviously intended for use as homework during therapy or in self-care.

Mazzola leads readers and recoverers through a very simple set of explanations and exercises. She begins the volume with data, definitions and descriptions. Also, using the family systems model, she maps out the terrain of dysfunctional families and codependent family relationships. Then she takes up the task of giving the 5 steps for recovering from codependency: (1) get in touch with your "self"; (2) prioritize self-care; (3) build boundaries; (4) maintain open communications; and (5) nurture intimacy. In each step the author goes forward a few yards, and then coaches the recoverer through an exercise to help them take the information from the intellectual to the affectual. Checklists, journaling, and mental role-playing are just a few of the tools Mazzola uses.

On the one hand "The Codependency Recovery Plan" is clearly a useful manual, written from the heart of one who has walked that path. On the other hand, I found myself unsatisfied by some of the approach and language. For example, it's pretty obvious that the author (whether she knows it or not) is traveling down the trail of Jungian Gnosticism. To paraphrase especially pages 46-50, "My real self is what's on the inside. I have to find the real me. My authentic self lies buried under my persona and needs to surface." I realize my contention may look skewed to some, but if my body, public personality, observable emotions, etc. are not also part of my authentic self, then "I" am trapped in a prison-house of creatureliness. And this Gnostic approach becomes more part of the disease than the remedy because, at the end of the day, it discounts my body-and-soul-ness.

Further, in several places the author mentions "your own truth" and "your own reality"; "Building awareness of your own truth is an ongoing practice...the right to your own reality" (81, 85). I'm not sure what the author intended by those phrases. They may be nothing more than therapy-guild-language for asserting boundaries, questioning the oppressive characterizations of right and wrong made by abusive people, etc. But I found it highly problematic and relativistic. If she meant nothing more than asserting boundaries, etc. it is still troublesome language. And if she meant what these words sound like, then they are treacherous. Once, some time back, one of my grandsons and I sat down to play chess. When he began to lose, he started moving his chess pieces in ways that didn't fit the "truth" and "reality" of the game (the rules). When I challenged him, he would say, "In my world, this knight can move this way. In my world, the pawns can move that way." We had a serious talk about the benefits and values of rules, and how - though painful at times - rules promote fairness for all. Imagine if he were to continue along this path into adolescence and adulthood, "In my my my reality..." There is a freight-train of harsh, cold realizations waiting for him.

"The Codependency Recovery Plan" is usable as homework in settings where people are being coached and counseled. Some folks who are not in therapy may find it beneficial as a guide to self-recovery. The author makes good observations and proposals throughout, especially in the areas of setting boundaries and keeping communication open. I recommend the book, with some scruples.

My thanks to Althea Press for the free copy of the book used for this review, and sent to me at my request. And my thanks to them for not mandating what kind of review I was to write, other than that it be my own honest evaluation. This assessment is freely made and freely given.

View all my reviews

Friday, February 15, 2019

Devotional Journaling.

It's not original with me. But years ago, for the purpose of keeping my head on straight and focused while reading my Bible every morning, and turning the reading time into prayer and worship, I started journaling. It's very simple: Date, passages read, and reflective thoughts that lean toward prayer. All pretty simple. The picture shows three recent days (with the names covered up to protect the innocent).

The following is today's prayer entry. It pulled together from my Scripture readings, the pain in my heart for several people, and the trust I have in our great liberating and loving God.
Lord, mighty and strong, a refuge in the storm and a shelter in the squall - you see clearly through the fog of human confusion, the stifling smoke of worry, the crushing blanket of darkness of depression - you set captives free, open prison doors and release the entrapped, lift up the oppressed and put the oppressors down. O Lord, mighty and strong, liberating and loving: hear me as I pray for these..... You see clearly what is going on, you hear the groans, know the tears, understand the fears and worries, are wise to the traps. Move in their lives and over their circumstances and set them free - free from their own sins and the sins of others; free from the hurt and pain; free from their own narrow confinements. Set them up in a broad place in full daylight and the fresh air. Strengthen the weak hands and feeble knees; make them run and not grow weary, to walk and not faint. Raise them up on Eagle's wings.
Maybe this little sample will give you some encouragement and ideas in the adventure of daily Bible reading. And may God refresh you, especially as you draw near to him who will draw near to you.


Sunday, February 10, 2019

Vespers - 10 February 2019

Almighty and indestructible God, who never grows old, and never succumbs to Alzheimer’s, dementia or amnesia; you never forget your promises and never misplace your valuables; you speak and your word is solid and sure; you plan out the end from the beginning and all you have planned comes about. It is to you that we come, worshiping you in your greatness, adoring your majesty, singing your might, and offering ourselves as living, whole-person sacrifices, made holy and acceptable to you through Jesus Christ your Son, and in the power of your Holy Spirit. O Lord, hear our prayer.

Turn your eyes and care onto those who are having trouble and turmoil in their marriages or with their children…; those who find that life hasn’t gone where they had dreamed and are disheartened…; and those who are in the ravenous grip of rapacious urges...; Because you have not given us a spirit of fear, but the Spirit of power, love and self-control (2 Timothy 1.7), fortify them with the righteous resilience to work through their situation, looking above, where Christ is, seated at your right hand, and to turn neither to the right hand or to the left. O Lord, hear our prayer.

We pray that you would be with our neighbors in our neighborhoods where we live…turn our suburbs and subdivisions into real neighborhoods and communities of caring people who treat one another with respect, interest, kindness and friendliness and will look out for each other’s best interests. And help us to see how we can be part of that.  O Lord, hear our prayer.

Finally, Lord, we pray for these…May they know in fresh ways that the LORD is their shepherd, and they have no need to want. That you make them lie down in green pastures, you lead them by still waters, you restore their soul, and that you lead them in paths of righteousness for your name’s sake. O Lord, hear our prayer.

"O Lord Mercifully Look Upon..." - 10 February 2019

O Lord Jesus Christ, our great God and Savior, your mercies and loving-kindnesses have been from everlasting. You became man and stooped to endure crucifixion and death for the salvation of all your people. You rose from the dead for our justification, ascended into heaven, and sit at the right hand of God the Father, from whence you shall come to judge the living and the dead; and as our great High Priest you regard the humble prayers of all who call upon you with their whole heart. Incline your ear and hear.

O Lord mercifully look upon your Holy Universal Church, which you have purchased with your precious blood, this congregation, and these churches in the greater OKC area: Edmond Trinity Christian Church, First Christian of OKC and of Edmond, and Hilcrest Christian Church; and your servants who are under persecution for your sake and for the sake of your holy gospel. Preserve your Church unconquerable by the gates of hell forever. Heal the factions, quench the fuming of the God-haters, speedily uproot the weeds of heresy and bring the heresies to nothing by the power of your Holy Spirit. Guide all ministers, pastors, Bishops and presbyters of your Church. May they build up and strengthen your people in all places, giving themselves faithfully to prayer and the ministry of the Word (Acts 6.4).

O Lord mercifully look upon the United Methodist Church as they meet in their specially called General Convention at the end of this month. Support those who love your truth and love your people; and stop dead in their tracks those who love their revisionism more than your righteousness.

O Lord mercifully look upon those who hate us and despitefully use us. Help us to love our enemies, to do good to those who hate us, to bless those who curse us, and to pray for those who abuse us (Luke 6.27-28). Assist us to in submit ourselves to every ordinance of man for your sake, whether to the President, or to governors, judges, or State legislators, as to those who are sent by you for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good, so that by doing good we may silence the ignorance of foolish men (1 Peter 2.13-15). And assist all world rulers and civil authorities, so that their leadership would advance toward peace and prosperity for all, as well as safety and security for your people in their lands.

O Lord mercifully look upon our parents (…), our spouses (…), our brothers and sisters (…), our children (…), our relatives and our friends (…), and grant them your blessings both here and hereafter; bring renewed healthiness to those relations that are hurtfully ruptured; bring sanity and sober-mindedness to those who are acting senseless.

O Lord mercifully look upon the aged, young, needy, orphans, foster kids, widows, single parents, those in sickness and sorrow, distress and affliction, oppression and captivity, prison and confinement (especially these…..). Remember, visit, strengthen, keep, and comfort them, and make haste to grant them, by your power, relief, safety, freedom, or deliverance, as they may need.

O Lord mercifully look upon those who have never turned from their sins and believed in you, as well as those who have departed from the true faith, becoming dazzled by dissent and deviation (…), enlighten them by the light of your Holy Spirit, and bring them into the fold of your Holy Church. Amen.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

"Our Father Who Art in Heaven" - 3 February 2019

(This picture of the Lord's Prayer is a wall print by Jennifer Wick, accessed 3 February 2019 at Minted)

Drawn from the Heidelberg Catechism on the Lord’s Prayer

Our Father Who art in heaven: we come to you trusting and rejoicing that you are our Father through Jesus Christ, and that you will answer us, as promised, with as much readiness as, and more readiness than, our earthly parents. And we trust that we may expect from your almighty power all things necessary for body and soul. Hear us, Father, as we pray.

Hallowed be thy name: Enable us rightly to know, reverence, magnify, and praise you in all your works through which shine forth your power, wisdom, goodness, justice, mercy, and truth; and likewise to so order our whole life, in thought, word, and work, that your name may never be blasphemed but honored and praised on our account.

Thy kingdom come: Preserve and increase your Church, to include this congregation and these churches in the greater OKC area: Britton Christian Church, Crown Heights Christian, Del City Christian, and East 6th Christian Church; and so govern us by your Word and Spirit that we may submit ourselves unto you always more and more. Destroy the works of the devil; destroy every power that exalts itself against you; and destroy all wicked devices formed against your holy Word until the full coming of your kingdom where you shall be all in all.

Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven: Grant that we and all people – the U.S.A., our Oklahoma State Senators, the nations and leaders of the world, may renounce our own will and yield ourselves, without gainsaying, to your will, which alone is good; that so every one may fulfill their task and calling as willingly and truly as the angels do in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread: Be pleased to provide for all our bodily need, and for those down with the flu and respiratory illnesses, the ailing and aged, the poor and penniless, and all in need….that we may thereby know that you are the only fountain of all good, and so place that trust alone in you.

And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors: Be pleased, for the sake of Christ, to forgive our transgressions and evils; and as we find this witness of your grace in us, may our full purpose be to heartily forgive our neighbor. Lord, hear us as we now mention those we need to forgive…. Forgive them, forgive us, and give us renewed willingness to forgive and pursue reconciliation.

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: Since we are so weak in ourselves that we cannot stand even for a moment, while our deadly enemies—the devil, the world, and our own flesh—assail us without ceasing; be pleased to preserve and strengthen us by the power of your Holy Spirit, that we may stand firm against them until we come off at last with complete victory!

All this we ask of you, because as our King who has power over all things, you are both willing and able to give us all good, and thereby we long for your holy name to be glorified now into eternity: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.

Saturday, February 2, 2019

At the Death of My Grandson - 2 February 2019

Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD” (Job 1.21).

God all merciful and all wise, compassionate and caring. All our days are in your hands; you give us life, breath, love, and sustenance. We commend young Matthias Alexander Lynch into your caring embrace, and we commend his parents and siblings to your compassionate shalom. Though his days were few, we are grateful for the moments we had with him.  We loved seeing his big feet, the hair already growing on his head, and his fighting spirit. But, Lord, now you have him, and we believe that when Christ returns to raise all – some to the resurrection of everlasting life, and others to the resurrection of judgment (John 5.29), we trust to see him again, laughing, smiling, singing and running! Until then, keep count of our tossings, collect our tears in your bottle and log them in your book (Psalm 56.8): all for your love’s sake. Hear our spoken, and unspoken prayers, in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Matty (Matthias Alexander) was born February 2 at 10:26 am. He weighed 10.9 oz and was 10 inches long. He was a strong little boy and fought to stay with us until 12:15 pm.