Blessed are…

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Photo of the Grand Canyon by Amy Felt

The following is a prayer prepared for the March 5, 2017 worship service at South City Church based on the Beatitudes:

 

Heavenly Father, we come to you through the redemptive blood of your son, Jesus, and in the power of the Holy Spirit.  We desire to learn what you taught your disciples when you were on earth and said,

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Lord, may we be poor in spirit in that we fully recognize our need for you.  May we seek your kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.  May we worship you as the one true God and not the worthless idols we create in our lives, or even of ourselves.  May we humbly follow You with complete dependence as we dwell in the tension of your kingdom in the reality on earth now and hold fast to the promise of its ultimate future fulfillment.

 

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

Following your perfect example, will you help us to first see, truly see, those who are mourning in our midst: the sick, the grieving, the frightened, the lonely, the disregarded, the injured, the orphans, the victims of discrimination, the abused, the afflicted, the misguided…Just as you saw the hurting, Jesus, will you open our eyes to see where you have called us to bring comfort in your holy name.  As we reflect your image, may we bring comfort and not harm.

 

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

Lord, meek is not a popular word in our society.  Yet you value the meek, those who have been found humble because their circumstances drove them to you.  We ask you to grow meekness and gentleness in our hearts so that we may patiently endure hardship to bring glory to your name.  While acknowledging the challenges of present sacrifices, help us to hold tight to your promises.

 

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

We are desperately hungry and thirsty, yet so often seek to satisfy with the temporary.  Lord, shape our hearts to long for your righteousness in our hearts, in our church, in our relationships, in our city, in our nation, in our world…and to find our satisfaction in you alone.  Give us strength when we tire in well-doing, give us focus when lesser hungers and thirsts tempt us with distraction, and give us grace to fully receive what you grant in our lives.  May our bellies be full with the overflowing goodness of your righteousness, for you are not a stingy or reluctant God.

 

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

As those in our lives interact with us, may our calling card be mercy: to the stranger at Starbucks, to the postman delivering our Amazon order, to the loud teenager next door, to the one who speaks little English as a new arrival in America, to the one with a different skin color, to the one who we’d rather not run into, to the elderly friend who struggles with mobility and health, to the one who votes differently than us…Yet we recognize we cannot muster up mercy within ourselves – it flows abundantly from you.    Will you help us to be so attuned to your mercy that we do not react aggressively to those who wrong us.  May we freely give mercy in the same lavish fashion you have given to us.

 

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

As we strive for so many things in our culture, we ask you Lord to purify our hearts.  May we not only be morally upright, but also be single-minded in our commitment to love you with all of our heart, soul, and mind enabling us to serve you with all of our strength.

 

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons and daughters of God.

May the peace we find in you enable us to live peacefully with those around us.  May we seek to elect local, state, and national leaders who seek peace and reconciliation where brokenness and the chaos of sin currently reign.  Even when from our human perspective peace may seem impossible, your children relentlessly pursue shalom.  Will you make us agents of peace seeking to participate in reconciliation within our sin-sick souls, with our brothers and sisters, with the beautiful creation you have made for us, and most importantly with you, God.

 

Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.  Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

At this moment, Christians around the world are experiencing persecution for their identity as a citizen of the heavenly kingdom.  We join the worldwide church in praying for your comfort and protection for those in dire circumstances as a result of their faith in you.  In addition, we ask for your guidance to mature and transform our expectations of a comfortable, easy life just because we believe in you.  Let us not be surprised when living the gritty Christian life includes inconvenience, expense, lost sleep, heartache, loneliness, and pain.  We thank you for the religious freedom we have in America to worship you and pray for our leaders to uphold this freedom for all.

 

We bring all that we are to you and desire to glorify you in word, deed, and thought.  In the precious name of Jesus, we pray.  Amen.

 

Kyrie Eleison

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Senseless killings of those made in the image of God.
Deep sorrow and world weariness.
Grieving for those violently lost.
Heartbroken for their distraught families.
Creation aches and groans with a loud, “Kyrie Eleison.”

Together we look to our Creator who makes order out of chaos,

melts hate with love,

redeems what appears to be hopeless,

and values each breath his created ones breathe.

My Lime Green Friend

So, today is my Lime Green Friend’s 50th Birthday!!!!

A fitting day to share my review of her newest book, Lime Green: Reshaping our View of Women in the Church.

I am grateful for Jackie’s thoughtful work on this topic and also

find myself closer to the lime green section of the color wheel than light pink.

Jackie engages in the gender conversation with sensitivity, truth, and profoundness.

I encourage you to read this dynamic book and check our her ministry.

Happy Birthday My Dear Friend!!!!

~Amy


Lime Green: Reshaping our View of Women in the Church

Dr. Jackie Roese

Reviewed by Amy N. Felt

October 20, 2015

     Lime Green embraces the creational diversity and continuum of spiritual gifts graciously appointed by our Maker for the good of his kingdom. While the audience in focus is “women who serve Jesus in any capacity in conservative faith communities” (xiii), I concur with Scot McKnight’s foreword that males in power will also benefit from this insightful work (xi). However, to the author’s target audience, the vulnerable behind-the-scenes perspective of Dr. Jackie Roese will evoke a full range of emotions, as in her story, we find ourselves and somehow feel more known. The confusion, frustration, and denigration experienced by many women in ministry stands in sharp contrast to the fact that “we desperately want to serve Jesus with every fiber of our being but aren’t sure how to go about it” (xiii).

It is a popular “spiritual” trick to prefix the word “biblical” to a title (e.g. “biblical womanhood”) and then unkindly wield the new weapon as if the battle is internal to the body of Christ. Lime Green takes issue with this errant assault and offers an honest revelation that “we have ideas and ideals about what a Christian woman is supposed to be like, and when a woman doesn’t fit into those ideals, we feel unsafe” (xvi). Sadly, those of us whose coloring is a little more lime green side on the color wheel than light pink become the casualties of “friendly fire” as those in power seek to maintain the familiar status quo. Roese’s personal story fleshes out what it is like to be lime green in a predominately light pink conservative Christian environment. Drawing on the majestic expression of Psalm 8, Roese presses us to ponder how one color, gender, or narrow list of characteristics could possibly to justice in glorifying God’s limitless beauty (xxi).

Through her colorful (no pun intended) life experiences, Roese beautifully reflects the tension that serving Jesus is messy and difficult juxtaposed with the hope and celebration that this deepens our awareness of our dependency on Jesus (25). Further, she engages reality by frankly admitting, “Saying yes to Jesus comes at a cost. And yet, even the costs come with blessings” (28). She speaks with painful truth, yet gratefully leaves naiveté behind.

As women consider their life pursuits in ministry, employment, relationship, and parenting, a one-color-fits-all approach to womanhood causes “confusion, insecurity, and competition” (30). One of the great strengths of Lime Green is the bold assertion that “when Jesus said, ‘Follow me,’ he wasn’t doing a cattle call. Not everyone walks the same path. Every life is unique” (30). Yet, in some church contexts, women unknowingly stumble across “invisible trip wires” as we seek to serve Jesus (43). However, we have a bold example in Luke 10 as Jesus ennobles Mary to break the social norms of the day and adopt the posture of a disciple at the feet of her rabbi (44).

Like the “blessed alliance” coined by Carolyn Custis James, Roese does not take an antagonistic view of men, but rather welcomes a unified, pedal-to-the-metal approach to kingdom work. She rightly proclaims, “Ministry is not a competition; it’s collaboration. Too many people need Jesus for us to spend time on sibling rivalry. We need everyone in the battle using everything they’ve got right where they are to advance the kingdom” (48). I could not agree more! To this point, her illustration of dredging Gilbert Lake (69) is worth the price of the book, but I will not give away this gem here (do read it though!). Continuing on, Genesis 2 demands our recognition that genderedness is about more than just marriage, “It’s about man and woman in community, male and female acting as a royal priesthood, ruling and subduing the whole earth on God’s behalf – together” (58).

Roese’s retelling of her first moments in the pulpit of Irving Bible Church is mind-blowing and captures all of your senses. The details of the pressure of the mounting attacks in the press, the insensitive preoccupation about her wardrobe choice, the vicious comments about her family, and even the need for a bodyguard all serve to reveal the complexities for women in this challenging calling. Sadly, some are distracted by the complementarian or egalitarian litmus test. Pressing women to declare their loyalties and then unjustly declaring them orthodox or heretical based on this simplistic binary antithesis is a nonstarter (99). Shouldn’t our litmus test be the Gospel (100)? When the household codes of Paul are utilized as theological grounds to subjugate women, God’s dynamic movement toward oneness is obstructed and flourishing is flattened (106-107). Scot McKnight propels the conversation stating, “We no longer have to live under the conditions of the fall where we emphasized otherness, but rather we can live under the conditions of the new creation where the emphasis is oneness” (109). Whenever shalom is broken, we hear the cry of our Savior (109). Lime Green is a work of gender shalom, oneness, and an unswerving pursuit of God’s kingdom work.

Lime Green Excitement!