Category Archives: prayer

Prayer for Independence Day

God our Father,



By Your providence You have formed this, and all nations, intended as instruments of Your common grace.

With humble gratitude, we thank You.

For the freedom to gather as Your people, and openly worship together,
We give You thanks.

For the freedom to speak the truth in Your name, without fear or hesitation,
We give You thanks.

For the men and women who, for the sake of liberty and justice, stand willingly in harms way,
We give You thanks.

When we have failed to live out the high calling of our founding principles,
Grant us mercy, O God.

As our leaders guide this nation in the course ahead, may they be held true by the law that You have written on the hearts of all people;
Grant us wisdom, O God.

Though the injustice of this world may, at times, compel us to take up arms, may we ever be slow to anger and guided by justice, looking forward always to that coming day when You shall end all wars;
Grant us peace, O God.

Holy God, You are the source of every blessing that flows from free and prosperous lives, sustained by the imperfect virtues of this great nation.

May our strength be guided by justice,
May our justice be guided by compassion,
May our compassion be rooted in love,
May our love be the fruit of our freedom,
And may our freedom be yielded to you.

May Your strong right arm

So order all things

Amen

To War and Back Again

Oh, my heart just aches sometimes.

Josiah and I went to war tonight.

“Please leave the door open.” Slam.

“Don’t touch that.” Poke.

“Sit down and finish eating.” Wail.

“Hold still please.” Kick.

Finally, barely fed and crammed into jammies, we slowed down just enough to read Christmas stories by candlelight, because my wife does many things well, but none better than planning perfect moments for the joy of others. So, we lit candles, spread a blanket on the floor, and read about a little girl whose father was off to war, so her mother cut apart her wedding dress to make a Christmas dress and doll for the girl, and then the two of them went into the woods at night to chop down a tree for the church pageant. Yeah, I cried a little.

And then I scooped up my boy, took him into his room, and shut off the light, forgetting to turn on his nightlight first. The room fell pitch black.

And in the perfect darkness, the rain dripping from the roof, he laid his head down on my shoulder, sighed deeply, and without words he declared his unconditional surrender.

I sang his lullaby to him in the darkness:

Lay down your head, Josiah
Lay down your head, though night is falling
The Lord protects his children through darkness
The Lord will guide your steps in the light

Long ago lived a boy named Josiah
He heard the voice of God in the night
Long ago the boy named Josiah
Led God’s children back into the light

So raise up your head, Josiah
Raise up your head, though night is falling
Hear the voice of God in the darkness
And lead his children back into the light

When I wrote it, Gretchen’s first comment was, “Wow, a little word of prophecy there, huh?” Maybe so.

I don’t know what’s ahead for Josiah and I, how many more times we’ll go to war and declare peace, or how much higher the stakes will get. I’m sure that there are nights coming when peace will cost significantly more than a song in the darkness. I don’t know how many moments in life we get like tonight, when you lift your son up, and he lays his head on your shoulder, and you try your best to weep softly so that you don’t break the magic of the moment.

He has both strength and tenderness, and I pray to God that both of them survive my parenting. I pray for wisdom and patience, to know when to be just and when to be merciful. I pray for strength that lasts through the day until I get home at night, so that he doesn’t always have to make his feast with the sparse remainder of my daily bread.

I pray that as he grows, he will look more and more like Jesus, and you can keep your damn bumper sticker. I mean that in all of the gritty ways. I pray that he learns when to braid a whip, that he has the strength to stand guard over an outcast woman and stare down an angry mob, that he speaks with fire and truth, that he spreads out a banquet for the friendless and unlovely. Most of those things, he’ll have to figure out on his own, because I don’t know how to do them.

I pray that he becomes a better man than I am.

God, you have blessed me through him. I hope that you bless him through me.

May we find peace at the end of every battle, and love, always love, no matter what.

josiah-and-daddy

Save the Date

So you’ve seen Mike’s posts about The Lord’s Prayer, and his piece, Our Father Vindicate,  now come hear it live.

From the APU School of Music Calendar:

Jan.22, 2010 Friday: “The Lord’s Prayer” Festival Concert; Stamps Rotunda (Darling Library), 7:30 pm

Men’s Chorale, Chamber Singers, and Alumni Orchestra

Alex Russell, violin    Duane Funderburk, piano

“Enjoy an evening of music dedicated to the most famous prayer in Christendom, featuring new music composed by Professors Phil Shackleton and Michael Lee, as well as new music by contemporary composer Alf Bishai (NYU). ”

I say we make it an event and go out for dinner, celebration afterwards. Whose in?

Stephen Martin (no, not that one)

Many of you know Stephen Martin – he was a trumpet player at APU with us and he’s currently an adjunct teaching Intro to Music Tech with me.

On Tuesday morning Stephen will be undergoing surgery to donate 40% of his liver to be transplanted into his nephew Liam. Liam is a little 7-month old baby, the son of Stephen’s sister; his liver started shutting down about 4 months ago. As the situation developed, Stephen volunteered to undergo testing to see if he was a match, and when he was confirmed as a potential donor, he quickly agreed to the transplant surgery. If you know Stephen, you know that this kind of selflessness and generosity is right in line with his character.

Please pray for Stephen and Liam during their joint surgeries tomorrow morning. There will be a long period of recovery following the transplant, for both Liam and Stephen. Pray for Stephen’s wife and children as he recovers, and for Liam’s family as well – he has a long road ahead of him, even after the successful transplant.

One more thing – have you checked to make sure you’re an organ donor? Have you told anyone? Gretchen and I have talked about it, and both of us feel the same way; if we die, use whatever is useful.

On Lazarus

Kyrie Yeshua

Even over death?
What of death come early?
death come in the midst of life

and passing by the body
and passing in echos
into every part of life

These echos of death
are theft of joy
and bind us too closely to feet of clay

These echos of death
make sharp our tooth and claw
to rip from the earth our daily meat

These echos of death
make me selfish
and base
and cold
and mean
they cause me to betray my sacred birthright

These echos of death
wrap fetid hand across the mouth of
breath of God and dragging down
make silent what should be
our chorused song of hope

Even over this death?
This death come in the midst of life?

On Support

Kyrie Yeshua

I am made small beneath the weight
of such gratitude
of such gracious outpouring
beneath the weight of this cup overflowing

How did I come to think that
any meaningful step could be made
alone?

I am made small
beneath the weight
of this cup

And am made vast, again
In the midst of such company
In the midst of such gracious outpouring

What Africa Needs Now

An atheist ex-pat from Malawi writes about how important Evangelical missionaries are to the future of Africa. Not just the work they do, but what they believe. I read it from a position of ignorance, but I hope that he is right. Looking forward to discussing this with my brother-in-law Scott, a missionary in Tanzania.

Now a confirmed atheist, I’ve become convinced of the enormous contribution that Christian evangelism makes in Africa: sharply distinct from the work of secular NGOs, government projects and international aid efforts. These alone will not do. Education and training alone will not do. In Africa Christianity changes people’s hearts. It brings a spiritual transformation. The rebirth is real. The change is good.

used to avoid this truth by applauding – as you can – the practical work of mission churches in Africa. It’s a pity, I would say, that salvation is part of the package, but Christians black and white, working in Africa, do heal the sick, do teach people to read and write; and only the severest kind of secularist could see a mission hospital or school and say the world would be better without it. I would allow that if faith was needed to motivate missionaries to help, then, fine: but what counted was the help, not the faith.

But this doesn’t fit the facts. Faith does more than support the missionary; it is also transferred to his flock. This is the effect that matters so immensely, and which I cannot help observing.

Read the rest of the article here.

I know some the folks who hang out here have some unique insight into this issue, and I’d love to hear it.

Gathering Eden

Kyrie Yeshua,

We have no memory of happier times
except the mimeographed black and white
irrelevant and unlived kind

No touchstone of bliss to serve as reference
For reconstruction and renovation

Instead we forage through the present pieces of ordinary lives
gathering Eden from the disparate strands presumed to be
echos of the first thing, the better thing, the joyful thing

And perhaps the joy itself is provenance enough
to prove that such things were present there
And have floated down the Tigris to us here.

On Mending

Kyrie Yeshua

Bind us together
Under one banner of grace
Where we have broken covenant with our
Brothers and sisters

Teach us the sacred art of mending

Pray For Paul, Teri, and Carrie

I can’t believe I forgot to mention this here, but if you think about my mom, dad, and sister in the next two weeks, you’ll be sending your thoughts, here, outside of Kampala, Uganda.  They’re participating in a two and a half week missions trip, partnering with a ministry called Embrace Uganda.  You can see them in the picture that I linked to, all huddled on the left hand side.   They departed last Saturday morning, and they return two weeks from today.  

Now, I know that for those of you unwashed heathens, the word “Missions,” or “Missionaries,” perhaps conjures perhaps images of that awful movie, “At Play in The Fields of The Lord,” which you know was fiction because Daryl Hannah was married to John Lithgow.  That movie also treated us to our very first Kathy Bates nude scene.  Hooray!

Missions also conjures images of forced conversion, tract-wielding hippies, and bike-riding Mormons.  It’s an unfortunate stereotype, unfortunate because like all stereotypes it’s somewhat earned.  

Let me offer you a different image.  Doctors Without Borders.  For these two weeks, my dad, Dr. Suburban Family Man, will be treating HIV patients in a small village in Uganda.  He will be The Man, supervising any and all medicine practiced in that village.  

Mission work in the 21st century is more about serving, and giving.  For weeks, my parent’s bedroom has become a clearing house of goods collected for this village.  They packed, and paid for, 12 suitcases full of shoes, medical supplies, and clothes.  My mom texted me and told me that the workers in the clinic openly wept as they went through and selected new shoes for themselves and their families.  

The cool thing about going on a service trip like this, and although I’ve never been to Africa, I’ve done a little of this type of thing here in California and Mexico, is that you are forced to surrender your agenda.  Even on a vacation, you’re in charge of your fun, and (at least for me) there’s always this lingering feeling of, “Are we having enough fun?!!?”  With a trip like this, that pressure is off.  There is no agenda, save whatever God places in front of you in the moment.  It’s a very liberating experience, surrendering your agenda.  

Now, for those of you who know my family in person, the idea of these three camped out in a Ugandan village is pretty awesome and hilarious.  Erica and I are seriously hoping that they get converted, rather then the other way around.  

Pray that they will be able to bless those with whom they come in contact.  

Pray that the goods and money that people in our community donated will make a lasting impact on those receiving the gifts.  

Pray that my family will get their heads spun around and put on again, unable to see life the same way ever again.  

Pray, above all things, that God will be honored, and Jesus’ kingdom of justice and mercy will be advanced in small but significant ways.

On The Bread

Kyrie Yeshua

Give us this day our forever bread

sustaining, abiding
bread of life
bread of heaven,
O bread of life,
O bread of heaven,

Forgive us our owed debt
As we forgive debts owed us

And by this forgiveness,
Knead us together in one body of grace,
One body abiding in you, and sustaining each part,
Give us this bread.

The Hand of Blessing

Josiah Michael Lee
On Sunday, we brought our son Josiah forward to be blessed by our church family. It was a joyful event, as those sort of things always are, I think. In our church, we come forward and lay hands on people, and the whole church prays together for that person. It’s a beautiful moment. It was made all the more beautiful by our precocious 2 1/2 year-old Sophia reaching her hand over and placing it on Josiah’s back to pray for him.

It’s been causing me to think, over the last few days, about what that blessing means. I have a bit of a mystical and contemplative nature, and am prone to think about everyday events as small reenactments of grand themes. In this case, though, the act of placing on hands and blessing a child doesn’t feel like some great supernatural transaction, some new angel hovering near, or fortune being enticed into a child’s life by some new supernatural gravitational field. The blessing of the church felt human, earthbound, and it was that humanness that brought me to tears in the service. Yes, I cry a lot these days. It’s how I leak out all this excess testosterone.

The church didn’t pray down a blessing that didn’t already exist. They stood up, laid their hands on my son, and confirmed their commitment to the blessing he already shares.

He will live and grow in a community of faith, and will learn to see the hand of God in the mundane transactions of life.

He will learn in the company of loving teachers, in silly songs and motions, in shared toys and snack time, he will learn how to be gracious and patient. As he grows, he will learn to love The Book, and learn how to let it implicate his life. He will learn to take up models and heroes, and to let them inform his choices. He will learn to serve, to give, to set his hand to the task of building the Kingdom of God in acts of justice, compassion, and grace.

He will learn to be a man in the company of godly men. In their strengths, and in their failings, he will learn about honor, and self-discipline, and humility, commitment, the special obligation of the strong to the weak, about virtue and integrity. He will learn about sexuality and identity, about the particular weaknesses of men, and he will learn about them in the company of those who love Yahweh.

He will be the recipient of grace, of instruction, of companionship, of diligent correction, of hospitality, of all the good things that come from life lived together.

When our church comes together to bless someone, it is a very human thing we do – we pledge to be blessing to that person. To see a hundred people stand, and lay their hands on his head, and on his back, and on us in support, and to hear them say, “He is ours, to care for, to love, to encourage, to teach, he is ours, and we are his. We are the cloud of witnesses, the strong right arm, the body, the co-laborers, the gathered followers of The Way, the forgiven-thus-forgiving Family of God in this place. We are his brothers. We are his sisters. We obligate ourselves to him. This is our particular blessing to him.”

Nothing could make me love this church more than the beauty of that moment.

40 days

Kyrie Yeshua

Grant us these 40 days
of emptying out
of exhale
of white knuckles unclenching

Grant us this 40 day reprieve
from indulgence
from frantic urgency
from self-obsession
from sensuality

from every mundane thing that
binds us too closely to this earth and
obscures our view of your kingdom com(ing) and
shouts down the songs of heaven whispered in our hearts

Grant us these days
in the shadow of death
to prepare for the coming feast

When we will be dead to sin,
And made fully alive in you.

ashwednesday.png

Two Shootings in Colorado

I was coming home from church today, and got a news alert that there had been a shooting at New Life Church in Colorado Springs. You might remember this as the church that Ted Haggard resigned from in disgrace after his homosexual affairs became public knowledge.

Horrified, I started scanning for more information, hitting up Google News. I found more information about a shooting at a missionary training center in a Denver suburb. I assumed that my original news alert had gotten the details wrong, but that wasn’t the case. There were two shootings in Colorado church gatherings today, and it’s unclear if they are related or not. There are some details, though not many, at Reuters. [link]

Please pray for those affected.

LA on fire, again

la-on-fire

Every time the Santa Ana winds blow through LA, the whole place catches on fire. If you’ve never lived here and seen one of these fires up close, you can’t image how terrifying it is to see flames shooting 20 feet in the air, consuming a hillside at 30 miles per hour.

Please pray for those in the path of the flames, and for the safety of those who fight them.