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A Prayer for Times of Distress: Psalm 3, Part 2


Psalm_3

Long after Psalm 3 was composed, it became known in the Hebrew worship community as “a morning prayer,” whereas its companion psalm, Psalm 4, became known as “an evening prayer.”

As mentioned in our last article, the Psalms reveal people, especially David, who are brutally honest with God in expressing their anger, loneliness or depression at any given moment (Psalm 88, A Psalm of the Sons of Korah, speaks with the voice of one in the throes of despair). God knows every molecule, ligament and fiber of our being; we cannot keep anything hidden from Him. The Psalms teach us that we do not even have to try to do so. David understood this.

 

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Roque González de Santa Cruz (1576-1628)
Christians Who Changed Their World


Roque_Gonzalez_de_Santa_CruzMissionaries—both Catholic and Protestant—are frequently portrayed as being tools of the colonial powers, working hand-in-glove with European states to subjugate the indigenous people of their colonies and destroying their cultures. While there is no question that this was true of some missionaries, it was not true of many others. Roque González de Santa Cruz and his successors are examples of missionaries who worked to protect native peoples and who respected their cultures while at the same time bringing Christianity to them.

Roque González was born in Asunción, Paraguay, the son of a Spanish noble family. He was a religious child who seemed destined for the priesthood. He was ordained as a priest at age 23, somewhat reluctantly since he did not think he was worthy of the office.

He had learned the Guarani language, and so he soon began doing mission work among the native peoples. In 1609, he joined the Society of Jesus to have more opportunities to engage in missionary activities and to avoid ecclesiastical promotion.
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A Prayer for Times of Distress: Introduction to Psalm 3


Psalm_3Although only five of the one hundred-fifty Psalms are actually designated as prayers in their headings (Pss. 17, 86, 90, 102, 142), others are nonetheless easily used as is, as prayers. These include Psalms 3, 7, 10, 13, 16, 25, 26, 27, 28, 30, 35, 38, 43, 63, and 71.

As we read through the prayers in the Psalms (as well as the Psalms themselves), we discover people, especially David, who are brutally honest before God about how they feel and what they are experiencing. This goes contrary to the notion that the Christian should always feel upbeat and positive about every situation he or she might encounter. The psalmists are not adverse in the least about pouring their true feelings out before the Lord; they frequently express such negative emotions as: a sense of being abandoned by God (Psalm 88), of feeling disappointed (Pss. 16, 92, 102, 130), of feeling insignificant, or small and overlooked (Pss. 8, 23, 86, 119, 139), of feeling discouraged (Pss. 12, 42, 55, 86, 107, 142), and of feeling grief (6, 31, 71, 77, 94, 123). The psalmists understood something we seem to have overlooked under some misguided, so-called Christian teaching, and that is that the God does not expect us to be totally upbeat at all times, to be totally anxiety and worry free, and to be positive in all occasions. God is all-knowing  and knows us totally, blemishes, scars, as well as apple-bright complexions: He knows our state of physical health, whether we are well or ill; He knows whether we are strong or weak; He knows whether we are rested or weary; He knows our inner being, whether we are lonely, unhappy, abused, abraded,  or abandoned; He knows if we are angry and want revenge, or if we are depressed. We cannot hide from Him. Not only can we not hide from Him, the Psalms teach us just the opposite of hiding; they teach us that God wants us to be open totally with Him, to hide nothing. He will not be hurt or shocked by what we might say as we honestly open up our hearts before Him.

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Christians who Changed their World: Hannah More (1745-1833)


HannahMoreIn late eighteenth century England, the opportunities available to women varied by social class. Lower class women had little opportunity for education and typically worked in service for the upper classes or in factories; a shockingly high number were prostitutes. Upper class women did not have as many rights as men, but were often well traveled and active in politics and intellectual life. Some were writers, following in the footsteps of Aphra Behn, the first female professional writer in Great Britain.

Formative years
Hannah More did not come from an upper class background, but she had the good fortune of having a schoolmaster for her father. Hannah was the fourth of five daughters born to Jacob More. Prior to her birth, Jacob had hopes of a career in the Church of England, but he changed his plans when he lost a great deal of money in a law suit over an estate he thought he would inherit. He moved to Bristol, and in 1743, he was appointed as teacher at Fishponds school, where Hannah was born.

In 1758, Jacob set up a boarding school for girls, run by his older daughters. Hannah studied there and later taught at the school as a young adult.

While teaching at the school, Hannah began writing plays for the girls to perform. These plays would establish her as a literary figure in England. One of them, The Search after Happiness, written when she was 17 years old, sold over 10,000 copies by the 1780s.

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Psalm 96 as a Guide to Opening Our Intercessory Prayers, Part 2



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In the first installment in this article, we discussed how the theme of Psalm 96 as given in 96:1, “Oh sing to the LORD a new song,” should be an imperative in how we can hallow the name of God. All prayer should begin with praising the Father. We stated that Psalm 96 contains five praise-patterns which can guide us in praising the Father.

The first praise-pattern Psalm 96 provides us with in singing a new song is that our prayers must have a proper purpose; verse 2 tells us that this purpose is “to bless his [God’s] name,” which means that we are to praise Him. We are to seek new and fresh ways of expressing our praise. Verse 2 also tells us that we are to “tell of his salvation from day to day.” We are to remind ourselves of the many ways His salvation has nourished our lives and the lives of others. As we ask for the salvation or the restoration of relationships with others, we can reiterate how salvation has brought others from the brink of eternal destruction. We can accomplish all of this by painting word pictures. Maybe at first you can only use finger paints like little children, but as you mature in creative prayer, you should be able to move from finger paints to oils and acrylics. Verse 3 therefore gives us this instruction: “Declare his glory among the nations…” The purpose for singing a new song is thus to bless and express praise.

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Psalm 96 as a Guide to Opening Our Intercessory Prayers, Part 1



Prayer_200x300 When Jesus instructed the crowds on how to pray during his Sermon on the Mount in what is commonly called the Lord’s Prayer but is in reality the Model Prayer (Jesus, who was sinless, could never ask the Father to forgive him of his sins) in Matthew 6:9-14, he instructs us to begin by saying, “Our Father, hallowed be your name.” The word “hallow” has the ideas of to make holy, to sanctify, to honor. It contains within it praise.

By learning how to truly hallow God’s name, we are opening up the portals of heaven as we come before the King with our intercessions on our behalf and on behalf of others.

Psalm 96 can offer us a guide into how we can hallow the name of God.

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