Monthly Archives

June 2014

Centering Prayers

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He restores my soul (Psalm 23:3)

I have stilled and quieted my soul (Psalm 131:2)

In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you
and wait in expectation ((Psalm 5:3)

Praise the Lord, O my soul, and all my inmost being (all that is within me)
praise his holy name (Psalm 103:1)

Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love (Psalm 143:8)

O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name! (Psalm 89:1)

Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things (Psalm 98:1)

My heart says of you, “Seek his face!“ Your face Lord will I seek (Psalm 27:8)

To you, O Lord, I lift my soul, in you I trust, O my God
Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long (Psalm 25:1, 4-5)

When my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the Rock that is higher than I (Psalm 61:2)

Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the Lord has been good to you (Psalm 116:7)

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart by pleasing in your sight
O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer (Psalm 19:14)

This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it (Psalm 118:24)

He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my heart to listen like one being taught
(Isaiah 50:4)

My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God (Psalm 84:2)

I love the house where you live, O God, the place where your glory dwells (Psalm 26:8)

I will extol the Lord at all times, his praise will always be on my lips (Psalm 34:1)

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him (Psalm 37:7)

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God (Matthew 5:8)

The peace of Christ, the word of Christ, the name of Christ (Colossians 3:15-17)

The joy of the Lord is your strength (Nehemiah 8:10c)

Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this:
He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn,
the justice of your cause like the noonday sun (Psalm 37:5-6)

Three Postures of Prayer

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Brother Lawrence described how he considered himself “before God, whom I behold as my king.” (The Practice of the Presence of God, Second Letter, pp38-39)

As Subject

the Posture: kneeling, prostrate

“I consider myself as the most wretched of men, full of sores and corruption, and who has committed all sorts of crimes against his King. Touched with a sensible regret, I confess to Him all my wickedness, I ask his forgiveness, I abandon myself in His hands that He may do what He pleases with me. The King, full of mercy and goodness, very far from chastising me, embrace me with love, makes me eat at His table, serves me with His own hands, gives me the key of His treasures; He converses and delights Himself with me incessantly, in a thousand and thousand ways, and treats me in all respects as His favorite…”

Kneeling or prostrate we pray: “As your Subject, redeem me – and converse with me as friend.”

As Son

the Posture: embracing, leaning, expressing need (Ignatius, the “prayer of embrace”)

“My most useful method is this simple attention, and such a general passionate regard for God, to whom I find myself often attached with greater sweetness and delight than that of an infant at the mother’s breast; so that, if I dare use the expression, I should choose to call this state the bosom of God, for the inexpressible sweetness which I taste and experience there.”

Embracing, leaning we pray: “As your Son, embrace and nurture me.”

As Stone

the Posture: sitting, desiring change and transformation

“As for my set hours of prayer, they are only a continuation of the same exercise. Sometimes I consider myself there as a stone; presenting myself thus before God, I desire Him to form His perfect image in my soul, and make me entirely like Himself.”

Sitting, we pray: “As your Stone, form me into Your image.”

 

For Worship

Singing

Read from Practice

Give reflections above

Read Isaiah 6
Silent prayer: kneeling, prostrate, standing
Sing, “Holy, holy …”

Read Psalm 131
Refer to “the prayer of embrace” (Jim Devereux)
Sing

Read Isaiah 46:8
Sitting prayer: “present ourselves”
Sing: “Change my life, O Lord”

Prayers

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These are prayers that I have collected across the years which have been meaningful to me … and I commend them to you! Leighton

1. The Prayer of Stillness

Be still and know that I am God
Be still and know that I am
Be still and know
Be still
Be

2. A Prayer Before Entering into the Ministry of the Day

Lord, here’s my mind, think your thoughts in me.
Be my wisdom, knowledge, and insight.
Here is my voice.
You told me not to worry what to say and how to say it.
Free me to speak with silence or words, whichever is needed.
Give me your timing and tenderness.
Now Lord, here is my body.
Release creative affection in my face, my touch, my embrace.
And Christ, if there is something I am to do by your indwelling presence,
However menial or tough, control my will to do it.
Lord, I am ready now to be your manifest intervention in situations,
To infuse joy, or absorb pain and aching anguish.
I plan to live this day and the rest of my life in the reality of you in me.
Thank you for making it so!

This prayer above of Dr. Lloyd Ogilvie’s I have used for many years as I prepare to preach or begin some other ministry.

3. THE FELGILD COMPLINE

All say together sections in bold type.
*Indicates a change of readers
Each in turn says the lines in italics

Calm me, O Lord, as you stilled the storm.
Still me, O Lord, keep me from harm.
Let all the tumult within me cease.
Enfold me, Lord, in Your pieace.

*Father, bless the work that is done
And the work that is to be.

*Father, bless the servant that I am
And the servant that I will be.

Thou Lord and God of power,
Shield and sustain me this night.

I will lie down this night with God,
And God will lie down with me;
I will lie down this night with Christ,
And Christ will lie down with me;
I will lie down this night with the Spirit,
And the Spirit will lie down with me;
God and Christ and the Spirit,
Be lying down with me.

*The peace of God be over me to shelter me

* under me to uphold me

* about me to protect me

* behind me to direct me

* ever with me to save me,

The peace of all peace be mine this night.

In the Name of the Father, the Son
and the Holy Spirit.

4. Morning Prayer (of John Stott)

Good morning, heavenly Father;
good morning, Lord Jesus;
good morning, Holy Spirit.

Heavenly Father, I worship you
as the creator and sustainer of the universe
Lord Jesus, I worship you,
Savior and Lord of the world.
Holy Spirit, I worship you,
Sanctifier of the people of God.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever.
Amen.

Heavenly Father, I pray that I may live this day in your presence
and please you more and more.
Lord Jesus, I pray that this day I may take up my cross
and follow you.
Holy Spirit, I pray that this day you will fill me with yourself
and cause your fruit to ripen in my life:
love, joy, peace,
patience, kindness, goodness,
faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

Holy, blessed, and glorious Trinity,
three persons in one God,
have mercy upon me.
Amen.

5. A prayer of St. Thomas

O Christ, whom now beneath a veil we see,
May what we thirst for soon our portion be,
To gaze upon thee unveiled, and see thy fade,
The Vision of thy glory and thy grace.

Thomas Aquinas (c.1125-1274 trans. by James Russell Woodford, 1850)

6. A Prayer of Lloyd Ogilvie

Lord, here’s my mind, think your thoughts in me. Be my wisdom, knowledge, and insight.
Here is my voice. You told me not to worry about what I am to say, but that it would
be given me what to say and how to say it.
Free me to speak with silence or with words, whichever is needed.
Give my your timing and tenderness.
Now Lord, here is my body.
Release creative affection in my face, my touch, my embrace.
And Christ, if there is something I am do to by your indwelling presence
however menial or tough, control my will to do it.

Lord, I am ready now to be your manifest intervention in siutations
to infuse joy, affirm growth, or absorb pain and aching anguish.
I plan to live this day and the rest of my life in the reality of you in me.
Thank you for making it so!

7. FIVE PRAYERS

The following are from “Prayer for Beginners”, a presentation offered on BBC television in 1958 by Metropolitan Anthony Bloom, a Russian Orthodox bishop. Before becoming a monk he was a physician who worked with the French Resistance before World War II. While in his talks he may have been addressing beginners, the prayers are very good for us who think we are further along the way! (The prayers and comments come from the Epilogue of Metropolitan Bloom’s book Living Prayer, Templegate Press, Springfield IL)

FIRST PRAYER “When it comes to praying our first difficulty is to find which one of our personalities should be put forward to meet God …we are so unaccustomed to be our real self that in all truth we do not know which one that is …”, so we may pray

‘Help me, O God, to put off all pretences and to find my true self.”

SECOND PRAYER Since “if we are to address God, this God must be real” and since the pictures we have of God from earlier years, including childhood, may “prevent us from meeting the real God …” we may pray

‘Help me, O God, to discard all false pictures of thee, whatever the cost to my
comfort.’

THIRD PRAYER Since we may come to God with boredom, fear, despair, as we talk to God it must be genuine talk … so “Let us put all our worries to God … and then drop these concerns,” and so we may pray

‘Help me, O God, to let go all of my problems, and fix my mind on thee.”

FOURTH PRAYER Since we stand before God as “the stripped, reduced-to-bone person which we are when we remain just alone,” and since “we are also in the image of God” … “I suggest a period of silence – three or four minutes – which we shall end with a prayer:

‘Help me, O God, to see my own sins, never to judge my neighbor, and may the glory all be thine!”

FIFTH PRAYER “When we pray to God from all our heart … and yet there is nothing but silence …I only want you to remember that we should always keep our faith intact, both in the love of God and in our honest, truthful faith …let us say this prayer, which is made of two sentences pronounced by Jesus Christ himself:

‘Into thy hands I commend my spirit, Thy Will, not mine, be done.’

(You may find it helpful to make each of these a prayer for one week, before moving on to the next.)

8. A prayer of Catherine of Siena

SEA, LIGHT, FIRE
Eternal Trinity, you are like a deep sea, in which the more I seek, the more I find; and the more I find, the more eagerly I seek. You fill the soul, yet never fully satisfy it; the soul continues to hunger and thirst for you, longing to see you who are the source of all light.
In your light, eternal Trinity, I have seen into the deep ocean of your love, and have rejoiced in the beauty of your creation. Then looking at myself in you, I have recognized that you have made me in your image. This is the most precious gift which I receive from you in your power and in your wisdom.
Eternal Trinity, you are the creator and I the creature. I have come to know you because you have created me anew in your Son Jesus Christ. You are in love with me out of your love for him. You have given yourself to me. What more could I ask?
You are a fire, ever burning and never consumed. You consume in your heart all the self-love within my soul, taking away all coldness. You are a light, ever shining and never fading. You drive away all the darkness within my heart, enabling me to see your glorious truth.
You are goodness beyond all goodness, beauty beyond all beauty, wisdom beyond all wisdom.
You are the garment that covers all nakedness. You are the food that satisfies all hunger.
Catherine of Siena

9. A prayer by John Keble, etched on a rock over Lake Windermere

Thou who hast given me eyes to see
And love this sight so far
Give me a heart to find out Thee
and read Thee everywhere

10. A prayer by W. Paul Jones

Lord, be within me to empower me,
be without me so that I can endure,
over me as a shelter,
beneath me as a support,
before me as my light,
behind me to call me back,
and throughout,
enfold me as my Lover.

11. The Prayer of ‘Aunt Ida’ Dr. Ida Scudder, founder of Vellore Christian Medical College

Father, whose love is within me and whose love is ever about me,
grant that Thy life may be maintained in my life today and everyday;
that with gladness of heart, without haste or confusion of thought,
I may go about my daily tasks
conscious of ability to meet every rightful demand,
seeing the larger meaning of little things,
and finding beauty and love everywhere
and in the sense of Thy presence may I walk through the hours
breathing the atmosphere of love rather than anxious striving

12. A Prayer of George Herbert

But thou wilt sin and grief destroy;
That so the broken bones may joy,
And tuned together in a well-set song
Full of his praises
Who dead men raises
Fractures well cured make us more strong

13. A Prayer of Fred Pratt Green

Of all my prayers
may this be chief:
Till faith is fully grown
Lord, disbelieve my unbelief
And claim me as Your own
O Savior in the Quiet Place

14. This is another day, Lord

This is another day, O Lord. I know not what it will bring forth, but make me ready, Lord, for whatever it may be. I am to stand up, help me to stand bravely. If I am to sit still, help me to sit quietly. If I am to lie low, help me to do it patiently. And if I am to do nothing, let me do it gallantly. Make these words more than words, and give me the Spirit of Jesus. Amen. (From the Book of Common Prayer)

15. A Prayer of G.K. Chesterton

You say grace before meals.
All right.
But I say grace before the play and the opera,
And grace before the concert and the pantomine,
And grace before I open a book,
And grace before sketching, painting,
Swimming fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing;
And grace before I dip the pen in the ink.
Quoted by Frederick Buechner in Speak What We Feel, p. 119

16. I bind unto myself today

I bind unto myself today
The power of God to hold and lead,
His eye to watch, His might to stay,
His ear to hearken to my need.
The wisdom of my God, to teach,
His hand to guide, His shield to ward;
The word of God to give me speech,
His heavenly host to be my guard.
ancient Celtic prayer (probably from Celtic Night Prayer)

17. A PRAYER OF JOHN NEWMAN

GOD HAS CREATED ME
TO DO HIM some definite service
He has committed some work to me
which he has not committed to another
I HAVE MY MISSION
I may never know it in this life
but I shall be told it in the next
I AM A LINK IN A CHAIN
a bond of connection between persons
He has not created me for naught
I shall do good – I shall do HIS work
I shall be an angel of peace
a preacher of truth in my own place
while not intending it
if I do but keep His commandments
THEREFORE I WILL TRUST HIM
whatever I am,
I can never be thrown away
If I am in sickness,
my sickness may serve Him
in perplexity, my perplexity
may serve Him
If I am in sorrow,
my sorrow may serve Him
HE DOES NOTHING IN VAIN
He knows what HE is about
He may take away my friends
He may throw me among strangers
He may make me feel desolate
make my spirits sink
hide my future from me – still
HE KNOWS WHAT HE IS ABOUT

Cardinal Newman

 

18. A PRAYER FOR US AND OUR MISSION

Lord, you are leading us in your Triumph … you are sending us on your mission:

So give us a humble confidence, and show us your plans!

Lord, you are transforming us into Reflecting Mirrors

So make us into transparent evangelists so that others may know
we have been with you

Lord, you have put your Treasure in our Jars of Clay

So keep us faithful to proclaim your good news, and do not let us lose heart!

Lord, you have sent us as your Ambassadors

So make us a people of embrace, give us boldness without brashness,
urgency without coercion, and may we make many friends for you!

And let all God’s evangelists say

AMEN!

 

19. A Preacher’s Prayer

Lord.

Please give me

an instructed tongue
to know the word to sustain the weary

a wakened ear
to listen

and an open ear
not to draw back

an offered back
and cheeks
to those who beat and plucked

a face set like flint*
not ashamed
and to go face to face
with those who bring charges

(*set, but not hard)

“He wakens me morning by morning
wakens my ear to listen
like one being taught”

4/11/01 Purple journal p.75

20. Lullaby for a Christian

Sleep sweetly, child
The arms of Love
Enfold you.
Rest now,
Be still,
Relax and let Him hold you.

The day was His
And now His is the night.
And you,
Entirely His;
All will come right.

Entrust yourself to Him
Whose love
Has bound you.
Sleep sweetly, child,
And let his love
Surround you.

– Elizabeth Rooney

21. Prayer

Father,

I abandon myself into your hands;
do with me what you will,
Whatever you may do, I thank you;
I am ready for all, I accept all.
Let only your will be done in me,
and in all your creatures.

I wish no more than this,
O Lord.
Into your hands I commend my soul
I offer it to you with all the
love of my heart,
for I love you, Lord,
and so need to give myself,
to surrender myself into your
hands, without reserve
and with boundless confidence.
For you are my father.

Charles de Foucauld

22. A Prayer of Commitment

I take God the Father to be my God.

I take God the Son to be my Saviour.

I take God the Holy Spirit to be my Sanctifier.

I take the Word of God to be the rule of my life.

I take the people of God to be my people.

And I now commit myself – mind, body, and spirit –

To my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ,

And I do this freely, fully and forever.

In the Name of the Father and of the Son
and of the Holy Spirit.

23. A Morning Act of Faith

I believe on the Son of God – therefore I am in Him.

Having redemption through HIs blood and life by His
Spirit – He is in me.

And all fullness is in Him.

To HIm I belong by creation, purchase, conquest, and
self surrender: To me He belongs for all my
hourly need.

There is no cloud between my Lord and me. There is no
difficulty inward or outward which He is not
ready to meet in my today.

I believe I have received not the spirit of fearfulness, but
of power and of love and of a sound mind.

The Lord is my keeper.

Amen.

H. C. G. Moule (Bishop of Durham)

24. Daily Prayer

Give me, O Lord,
a steadfast heart
which no unworthy affection
may drag downwards.

Give m
an unconquered heart
which no tribulation
can wear out.

Give me
an upright heart
which no unworthy purpose
may tempt aside.

Bestow on me also, O Lord my God
understanding to know you
diligence to seek you
wisdom to find you
and a faithfulness
that may finally embrace you
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

25. Take Time

In the name of Jesus Christ

who was never in a hurry, we

pray, O God, that Thou wilt

slow us down, for we know

that we live too fast.

With all of eternity before us,

make us take time to live –

time to get acquainted witih

Thee, time to enjoy Thy

blessings, and time to know

each other. Amen.

Peter Marshall

26. A Lenten Prayer: to the Gardener of our Souls

Great Gardener
take these traits of my life
and by your grace help me to
see them
accept them
surrender them
and may they be transformed
into the humus and humility
of being fully human
and fully the seed bed of
Your Spirit

Leighton Ford

Lent 2001

Readings

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Leighton Ford

Musings and notes on books I have read recently.

LeadershipNext: Changing Leaders in a Changing Culture
Eddie Gibbs, InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL, 2005.

This work is an excellent resource for leaders trying to navigate their way through the uncertain shift in church cultures between modernity and post-modernity. Gibbs brings his experience to engage younger church leaders toward redefining leadership that resonates with the changing church culture. Although primarily written for younger leaders trying to establish a culturally relevant church leadership network, his balanced discussion of the need for change while still maintaining a strong biblical foundation serves as a worthwhile resource for leaders in aging denominations towards understanding leadership styles and attitudes of emerging generations. In essence, this is an invaluable resource for older churches struggling with their aging demographic and discussing the leadership appropriate to answer the “where are the under-35’s in our congregation?” question. For both younger and older readers, LeadershipNext facilitates a safe medium for listening and promotes conversation towards understanding next generation notions of leadership.
(reviewed by Chris Kim)
Going Public with the Gospel: Reviving Evangelistic Proclamation
Lon Allison and Mark Anderson, InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove IL 2003

I am delighted that my good friend Lon Allison, director of the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College has co-authored this book. We have needed a good case for public evangelistic preaching for a long time – and this meets the need. In my commendation for IVP I wrote:

“This is a bold and provocative book. Against the conventional wisdom that mass evangelism is through, it asserts the ongoing priority of evangelistic preaching. Against the comfortable marketing mentality of much contemporary outreach, it calls for costly grace and radical discipleship. Against much timidity about supernatural acts it dares to say that the Spirit is alive and well! You may not agree with all the authors propose but you will be challenged. It may shake shake our complacency. It may also, God willing, help to raise up a new generation of evangelists with the fire of God in their tongues, their heads and their bellies.” (1/04)

Receiving the Day: Christian Practices for Opening the Gift of Time
Dorothy C. Bass, Jossey-Bass, San Francisco 2000

One of the better books I have read on the Christian use of time, and of finding rhythm and balance. If, like me, you often feel life is an “unfinished symphony” – and that almost every day there is a sense of wishing there were more time, then please read this wise and helpful book. Dorothy Bass heads the Valparaiso University Project on the Education and Formation of People in Faith. She wonders how to answer the common question, “How has your day been?” and in answer explores for us the meaning of the day, the sabbath, the year, and lifetime itself – and suggesting ways of Christian practice to “receive the day.” I find it theologically well grounded, practically helpful, and spiritually both challenging and releasing, and an encouragement to follow God’s lead in discovering the rhythm of time. For the “time being” you are in .. take time to read it! (11/02)

Sacred Companions: The Gift of Spiritual Friendship and Direction
David G. Benner InterVarsity Press Downers Grove IL 2002

This is one of several recent books showing that evangelical Christians are prepared to recover the age-old practice of spiritual direction. Benner, a practicing psychologist, is also an experienced spiritual director and retreat leader. Sacred Companions is his response to a real and growing need and longing for in-depth in our busy lives and noisy world. He shows sensitivity to the ways of the human soul as one would expect from a wise and experienced counselor, together with an awareness of is own spiritual journey. He has a wide knowledge of the literature and practice of spiritual direction. It is an excellent book, applicable broadly to anyone who desires to be a spiritual friend, and also to those more formally involved in spiritual direction. Highly recommended.

The Twilight of American Culture
Morris Berman W.W. Norton and Co New York NY 2000

A disturbing book .. a kind of secular jeremiad. Berman, a social historian, has a very dim view of our future. Somewhat in the vein of the decline and fall of the Roman Empire, Berman sees our culture as “vital” but in decline … signs of the decline being the growing gap between rich and poor, the inability of the society to keep up the heavy weight of our structures, the dumbing down of literacy, and a spiritual vaccum. While not a religious person Berman suggests the “monastic option” as the only viable alternative. Based on the historical precedent of monasteries which kept classical learning and culture alive during the Dark Ages, he suggests that some people may want to try some alternative “monastic” type efforts to stem the tide. (Is 4 billion square feet of malls in the US a bit overbuilt?)
Question: how he thinks a “monastic” option can be largely individual (not communities) is a wonder. The abbott of Mepkin Abbey also told me that he found it rather puzzling how one could have a monastery without God! Anyway … read it and ponder whether God has given you a “small field” (as Berman suggests) to be a monk in!

John Adams
David McCullough

The author of the fine Truman biography has done it again! John Adams in this large volume gains a stature in the pantheon of the American Republic that he should have had but had not before! It is only the voluminous correspondence between Adams and Abigail that survived (unlike Jefferson’s letters, mostly burned, and probably for good reason) that made it possible for McCullough to give us such a vivid story and history of the signer of the Declaration, emissary to France and England, and president of the US .. who said of himself, “Thanks to God that he gave me stubbornness when I know I am right.” Worth reading for many reasons, including Adam’s pithy thoughts. “What horrid creatures men are, that we cannot be virtuous without murdering one another.” “The phrase ‘rejoice evermore’ shall never be out of my heart .. as long as I live, if I can help it.” And in a letter to his old friend van der Kamp: “Griefs upon griefs! Disappointments upon disappointments. What then? This is a gay, merry world notwithstanding. Could have been an epitaph for this man who was called a “stout oak.” May we have more like him. Then maybe our culture would not be in “twilight.”

JOHN ADAMS By David McCullough – quotes

Stubbornness “Thanks to God that he gave me stubbornness when I know I am wright (272, re long effort to get Dutch help

Reflection “Everything in life should be done with reflection” 259 to John Quincy (re ice skating, riding, fencing and dancing!)

Self-doubts At the start of every new venture of importance in his life, John Adams was invariably assailed by grave doubts. It was a life pattern as distinct as any. The boy of fifteen, riding away from home to be examined for admission to Harvard, suffered a foreboding as bleak as the rain clouds overhead. The delegate to the First Continental Congress, preparing to depart for Philadelphia, felt “unalterable anxiety”’ the envoy sailing to France wrote of “great diffidence in myself.” that he always succeeded in conquering these doubts did not seemed to matter. In advance of each large, new challenge, the painful waves rolled in upon him once again. 399

Perfectibility of man The ideal of the perfectibility of man s expounded by eighteenth-century philosophers – perfectibility “abstracted from all divine authority” – was unacceptable, he declared.

It is an idea of the Christian religion, and ever has been of all believers of the
immortality of the soul, that the intellectual part of man is capable of progressive
improvement for ever. Where then is the sense of calling the perfectibility of man
an original idea or modern is discovery … I consider the perfectibility of man as used
by modern philosophers to be ere words without a meaning, that is mere nonsense.

He had himself, he told Rush, “an immense load of errors, weaknesses, follies and sins
to mourn over and repent of.” These were “the only affliction” of his present life. But St.
Paul had taught him to rejoice ever more and be content. “This phrase ‘rejoice evermore’
shall never be out of my heart, memory or mouth again as long as I live, if I can help it.
This is my perfectibility of man.” 590-1 (from letters to Dr. Benjamin Rush, his friend)

War “What horrid creatures we men are, that we cannot be virtuous without murdering one another?” (why a nation without wars seemed to lost honor and integrity) 609

Psalms The Psalms of David, in sublimity, beauty, pathos, and originality, or in one word poetry, are superior to all the odes, hymns, and songs in any language” 629 (letter to Jefferson)

Epitaph Once, in a letter to his old friend Francis van der Kemp, he had written, “Griefs upon griefs! Disappointments upon disappointments. What then? This is a gay, berry world notwithstanding.”
It could have been his epitaph. 651
Atonement
Ian McEwan Nan A. Talese Doubleday New York 2001

I saw this novel in a bookstore in Gatwick airport and made a mental note to locate it – and discovered (for me) a new favorite writer. Ian McEwan spins a tangled yarn about the youngest daughter of an upper middle class English family, who wrongfully and spitefully accuses her older sisters’s boy friend of raping a cousin. One is never quite sure whether she did so because she believed it to be the truth, or because of an overactive imagination (she fancied herself as a famous writer) or because she herself was jealously in love with the boy friend. The characterizations are believeable; McEwan’s use of language and descriptive powers are outstanding. His scenes describing the British army’s desperate evacuation from Dunkirk in the early days of WWII are powerful – made more so since Robbie, the boy friend, is once again in peril of losing his life and all he loved. When Briony the accuser grows up she realizes the horror of what she had done: “it appeared that her life was going to be lived in one room without a door.” Although she tries to make amends first by becoming a nurse for badly wounded British soldiers, and then by trying to recant her testimony, toward the end of her life, now a celebrated writer, she asks “how can a novelist achieve atonement when, with her absolute power of deciding outcomes, she is also God? There is no one, no entity of higher form that she can appeal to, or be reconciled with, or that can forgive her.” Is Briony’s dilemma not that of much of the Western world? There is a twist at the end that leaves one uncertain whether the whole story is meant to be real, or again the product of a writer’s fantasy. I want to read McEwan’s earlier Brooker Prize novel Amsterdam.

BLACK DOGS
Ian McEwan Nan A. Talese Doubleday New York 1992

I am enjoying McEwan more and more. One reviewer describes him as “an acute psychologist of the ordinary mind.” His ordinary minds in this novel however are quite extraordinary. Bernard Tremaine and his wife June (in-laws of the narrator) were newly married at the end of WWII in England, deeply in love, ardent communists both. But during a delayed post-war honeymoon in southern France their lives are divided by an uncanny incident: June is attacked on a remote mountain path by two “black dogs” that she drives off. In her moment of danger she becomes aware of the aura of a presence that empowers her, an experience that brings her to a lifetime sense of the reality of both evil and God. From that moment she and Bernard (who goes even more deeply into his secular “faith” of scientific materialism) lose their deepest bond. Much of the book has Jeremy, the son-in-law, seeking to get a first-hand account from June of the “black dog” encounter, and of debates he imagines (or hears) in his head between June and Bernard. The book closes with a remarkable passage, based on Jeremy’s notes of his last conversation with June before her death, where she describes the black dogs (who may have been trained as attack dogs by the Gestapo and since run wild) as the virtual incarnation of the evil “which lives in us all” and can be countered only by “a revolution in the inner life” of people. The black dogs, concludes Jeremy, “move into the foothills of the mountains from where they will return to haunt us, somewhere in Europe, in another time.” I am reminded in McEwan’s writings of Graham Greene, another British writer with an acute sense of spiritual reality. And also that Winston Churchill described the depression that sometimes afflicted him as his “black dog.”

In the preface Jeremy has posed the dilemma that Bernard’s belief in science and human reason, and June’s belief in God create for him. “I am uncertain” he says, “whether our civilization at this turn of the millennium is cursed by too much or too little belief, whether people like Bernard and June cause the trouble, or people like me.” The specter of the return of the black dogs remains on the horizon for him, threatening the vacuum of his own little belief.

GRACE MATTERS A True Story of Race, Friendship, and Faith in the Heart of the South Chris Rice, Jossey-Bass Publications 2002

Chris Rice was for many years partner to Spencer Perkins (John Perkin’s son) in the Reconcilers Fellowship based in Jackson, Mississippi. Chris tells the story of their relationship and his own spiritual journey, dating from his first immersion in Mississippi as a New England college boy, to Spencer’s death of heart failure in 1998. (Chris was part of the Arrow Leadership Program in October, 1997 but had to drop out after Spencer’s death.) This book is tough reading … moving, honest, and often raw and brutally realistic about the relationship between the idealistic white man, and the very realistic black man … their struggles with themselves, with each other, with the church. He names names and sins. It’s worth reading both for what it tells us about the pain of trying to build community and effect reconciliation .. but also, as the title says, for the strong redemptive sense of the grace of God that goes deeper and further than our human dysfunctions. Incidentally, Chris tells how the rappelling and rock climbing at Crowder’s Mountain that first Arrow session touched him powerfully.

ISLAM A Short History
Karen Armstrong The Modern Library New York 2000

This brief (186p) volume packs an impressive amount of history and information into its short scope. The author (who also wrote The Battle for God) is a former nun and writer on religion, with a particular interest in the “fundamentalisms” of our time. The history of Islam through the centuries is quite thorough, although the many references to unfamiliar (to Westerners) names and terms can be a bit mind-boggling. But it is a good primer, and the closing section on Islam today is well worth reading just for the understanding of the impact of modernity, of Europe, and “Christendom” on Islam.

MY LOSING STORY
Pat Conroy

Novelist Pat Conroy tells in My Losing Season of the basketball team at The Citadel on which he played as a starting point guard much of his senior year. The team, in spite of good talent and hustle went 8-17 that year. Their coach was a man who knew how to blame but never to praise … and reminded Conroy of his own brutal Marine father (who became the model for Conroy’s fictional character in The Great Santni). Coach Thompson was not able to mold his players into a team.

A chance encounter with a former teammate at a book-signing led him to dredge up in mid-life that story of that losing season, and to reconnect with his teammates. While interviewing Al Kroboth, who was a POW in Vietnam Conroy, who protested that war, saw himself in a new light. “Now I understand I should have protested the war after my return from Vietnam, after I had done my duty.” This was only one of the lessons that he learned late in writing about that dismal year, so that his book turned out to be “an act of recovery.”

In his epilogue he writes

There is no downside to winning. It feels forever fabulous. But there is no teacher
more discriminating or transforming than loss. The great secret of athletics is that
you can learn more from losing than winning … Losing prepare you for the
heartbreak, setback, and tragedy that you will encounter in the world more than
winning ever can. (395)

And he concludes

Many of my teammates wish that year had never happened. I consider it one of the
great years of my life, if not the greatest … if I could change everything that
happened that year, if I could bring us a national championship, I would not do it.
(400) My Losing Season, Doubleday, New York 2002)

LORD TEACH US TO PRAY by Alexander Whyte

My mother-in-law, Morrow Graham, gave me her copy of this in 1953, about the time when Jeanie and I were married. It is worn and it’s cover frayed now from her use and mine … but the power and passion of Alexander Whyte is not! How I wish I could have heard him preach at Free St. George’s, Edinburgh, or heard his teaching as principal of New College. I can only imagine it! Whyte had a great heart for God, a deep sensibility to sin, and a most powerful imagination. “Do we practice the presence of Christ when we pray? Do we think ourselves and imagine ourselves into his presence when we stand up to sing, and kneel down to pray? Have we as keen, and as quick, and as intense, and as ever-present a sense of His presence as we have the presence of our fellow-worshippers?” Mother Graham marked this passage with red ink many years ago. It marks my soul now. I wish I could have heard him pray … and I want to pray with the passion with which he wrote. It is impossible to do describe this book. So please get a copy and read for yourself. Regent College Bookstore on-line is the only place I know to get copies. Thanks to them for reprinting. Whyte is not known much to the present generation … he needs to be rediscovered! (Also his books on OT and NT characters are superb!) November 2003

My (Unusual) Lenten Reading

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During Lent I have been reading a book about hate. Well, truthfully, it’s not my Lenten reading, but my selection for our next book discussion group.

And since we meet April 8, the day after the Final Four college basketball national championship game, it’s fitting that it’s about the long-time rivalry between North Carolina and Duke. The author, Will Blythe, is a Tar Heel fan as I am. And equally a foe of Duke.

To say he is obsessive is way too charitable. But he does admit this in his sub-title: A Thoroughly Obsessive, Intermittently Uplifting, and Occasionally Unbiased Account of the Duke-North Carolina Basketball Rivalry.

But this is more than a sports book. It is funny and literate, an exploration of culture and human nature, and the search to understand our obsessions, our loves and hates. Blythe goes one day to discuss his obsession with a Presbyterian minister he likes. On the way he muses about basketball as “the common religion that binds us together” and how in church as a boy he had to fight to stay awake and listen to platitudes.

I had been drowsy all those years because church was boring. The Presbyterian theologians of the twentieth century somehow reduced God from a voice out of the whirlwind to a gentle breeze whispering through the parking lot, from an awesome mystery into a civics lesson, from the power and the glory to the friendly and concerned. That’s if He was around at all. So that attendance at University Presbyterian church struck me as largely an exercise in being good, in should and shouldn’t. You rarely encountered joy or terror. You were rarely if ever possessed with the spirit. Larger spiritual hungers went unaddressed. Now there are good things to be said for such moderation in the face of divinity (the wilds of spirit life teem with their own dangers), but I am speaking of the bad. This was religion as a Rotary Club meting. This was religion as ethical culture. This was religion as a dead magnet with no power to attract, offering comfort and duty and nostalgia in place of the shock and disorientation of genuine spiritual feeling.

Or so it seemed to my demanding and bewildered heart. Admittedly, I was an extremist. I wanted burning bushes, voices from that whirlwind, visions of ladders to heaven, wrestling matches with angels. I wanted to know God’s true name. As a13-year old in the grips of religious despair, I even went so far as to ask Jesus if he wouldn’t mind appearing on my bedroom wall right next to the picture of Che Guevara. (From Will Blythe. To Hate Like This is to be Happy Forever. 285-6)

I read this and am chastened. This is Lenten reading indeed. It makes me wince in repentance. How could we ever make The Story about Jesus on the way to the cross, about the cosmic contest between sin and salvation, so tame? How could an (admittedly) classic sports rivalry command more passion than Good Friday and Easter? How could we commit the sin of making Jesus boring? And how may God strike terror and joy into the heart of Will Blythe? I can only imagine how he would write if he fell in love with the God who loves him so passionately! I hope that happens before the final buzzer.

Leighton Ford

March 2008.

Evangelism and Gardening

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At the retreat of our Sigdor Group last week Edie Dwan share with us these excellent thoughts on evangelism and gardening. Thought you might enjoy it!

Leighton

Evangelism and Gardening

Jesus made the analogy that evangelism is like gardening, and it is. I read an article recently in the NYTimes on gardening which quoted from the work and musings of Craig Chalquist of John F. Kennedy University. It seemed to me that he was also speaking about the spiritual work that we do in people’s lives. These are lessons learned from working in gardens both actual and spiritual. Some of this might apply to the garden of your own soul, and some might be the garden of your ministry.

1. Abandon perfectionism. The garden is never perfect. Step back and look at the big picture. Or bend close and look a one perfect blossom. But stop focusing on the weeds, the wilting plant, the black spot on the roses. Gardening is messy.

2. Things take time to grow. In nature, there are no deadlines and you can’t rush things. They grow in their own time and according to the way God has ordained it. Give it time

3. Detach from outcomes. Sometimes you plant seeds and nothing comes up. Sometimes a plant just keels over and dies for no good reason. Sometimes things get eaten by pests. Sometimes things grow beautifully. Your effort may or may not be rewarded. Keep on sowing seeds.

4. Things decay and die. The garden teaches that some things need to go away. Many times these dying things become compost for the next stage. What is dying in your life right now? What needs to go away so that something new can come?

5. Nature has multiple ways of doing things. When there are not enough bees to pollinate, wasps, moths and other creatures pick up the slack. We are part of a larger body of Christians who are sowing the Word and being the Light of Jesus in this world. It doesn’t all depend on you. God is bigger than our failings. I used to worry about presenting all the gospel perfectly each time… now I realize that sometimes we just give people a piece of it, and then another time another piece, but that God is not in a hurry.

Edie Dwan

Billy Wants to Preach One More Time

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When Jeanie took some friends to visit her 91-year old big brother a few weeks ago he was feeling better and chippier, and his voice was much stronger than it has been.

And he told Jeanie: “I would like to preach one more time.”

That’s unlikely at his age. But, who knows, with that desire?

But: if he was able to preach one more time, what do you think his text and theme would be?

You have a guess?

If you visited the siting room where he spends much of his days you would know.

On the wall Jeanie saw a Bible text written in very, very large letters.

Galatians 6:14

But God forbid that I should glory,

save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.

That gives more than a hint doesn’t it!

And wouldn’t you like to hear him preach the cross? One more time?

Perhaps he will. Or perhaps he did, to that small congregation, Jeanie and her two friends, at his mountain home.
God forbid that I should glory … save in the cross.

That’s good to hear on Good Friday.

Leighton Ford

April 3, 2010

Jesus and the Mosque

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On a shelf at home I have a copy of Pilgrims of Christ on the Muslim Road, the story of the Syrian-born writer Mazhar Mallouhi. As a young man who grew up in a Muslim family he had a profound spiritual hunger, read widely, learned of Jesus in the Bible, and became a follower of Christ while remaining loyal to his Muslim culture.

His novels are read by millions in the Middle East. Through them he has sought to bridge misunderstandings between Muslims and Christians.

In the book is a photo of him in the famous Al Azhar Mosque in Cairo, sitting with a group of Muslims as they read the Gospels together. It is his custom to say, “I am a follower of Christ. Here is what Jesus said. Tell me honestly, do you think I am living as Jesus said I should?”

I thought of Mallouhi’s question during the heated dispute over the location of a Muslim mosque and community center near Ground Zero in New York. Among the voices being raised – some harsh with anger, some deep with indignation about rights– I wonder if the missing voice is that of Jesus?

If I were a Muslim I might want to claim rights, but also want my leaders to consider whether another location would work and help to heal some deep hurts. But I am not a Muslim. Those issues are for the Muslim community to decide.

What I need to ask is: what does Jesus say to us who say we follow him?
Suppose we, like Mallouhi, sat down with some Muslims in the new community center, and read with them some of the words of Jesus, words like “Do good to those who hate you.” That could apply to radical terrorists who want to blow us up. So how can it not apply to Muslim neighbors who are living among us?
Many years ago my late friend J. Christy Wilson was pastor of the first ever Christian church in Kabul, Afghanistan. Through the good offices of President Eisenhower permission was granted to build the church, attended by Christian expatriates.

The time came when the Afghan authorities revoked permission and announced they would knock the church down. When the bulldozers arrived what did the church people there do? Served tea to the workers who were pulling down their church building!

They were living out a central tenet of our Christian faith – that we are “saved by grace” –God’s grace freely given in Jesus Christ – and they showed grace.

How can we do that? I hope the churches and the Christ followers in New York can figure it out. Perhaps delivering a cool drink to the workers who will build the center? After all Paul went so far as to write (and this was about enemies, not neighbors) “If they are thirsty, give them something to drink.”

Does this mean we naively accept real evil? Not at all. I understand the rage that 9/11 stirred. Force is often needed to protect the innocent. But ultimately I have to follow Jesus as Paul did when the apostle admonished us to “overcome evil with good.”

What does the love of Christ compel me to do? Perhaps, whether in New York or Charlotte, to extend a little more grace – actually a whole lot more. Wouldn’t that be the best witness we could make right now?

Leighton Ford

August 26, 2010

From Mass Evangelist To Soul Friend

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Leighton Ford’s new ministry is, in many ways, like his former calling—only more personal.

By Lauren F. Winner | posted on www.christianitytoday.com 10/10/00

Waitress Susie Stevens was hoping work would wind down quickly so she could get to her yoga class in Charlotte, North Carolina. Then, at table three, a conversation about prayer caught her attention.

“We get a lot of business luncheons,” Stevens says, “so when my customers are talking about something more interesting than turning a profit, I notice.”

Especially when the customer is 6’4″ and speaks with clipped Ontario vowels, quite distinct from the local drawl. He was telling a younger fellow about prayer, Bible-reading, and how talking regularly with a spiritual director could lead to inner depth and fulfillment.

That older customer was revival evangelist-turned-spiritual director Leighton Ford, and his spiritually seasoned conversation inadvertently set Stevens onto a new path. Growing restless with burning sage and sitting Zen, and intrigued by Ford’s conversation, Stevens began a search that led to a spiritual director, Bible study, and drawing close to Jesus

Lausanne Covenant

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The Lausanne Covenant is the statement of faith of Leighton Ford Ministries. It is an historic document, expressing the convictions of the participants at the International Congress on World Evangelization held at Lausanne, Switzerland in 1974. Dr. Billy Graham was the honorary chairman, and Leighton Ford served as chairman of the program committee. A drafting committee chaired by the British leader Dr. John R. W. Stott produced the Covenant, which was then affirmed by most of the 2600 leaders present. Setting forth both a theology and strategy of biblical evangelization, the Covenant has been translated and distributed in many languages, and adopted as a statement of faith by numerous mission and evangelistic agencies worldwide. It is still an “umbrella” under which evangelical Christians of many backgrounds covenant to pray, plan and work together for the evangelization of the world. (For further information, we invite you to visit the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization website, www.lausanne.org.)

INTRODUCTION

We, members of the Church of Jesus Christ, from more than 150 nations, participants in the International Congress on World Evangelization at Lausanne, praise God for his great salvation and rejoice in the fellowship he has given us with himself and with each other. We are deeply stirred by what God is doing in our day, moved to penitence by our failures and challenged by the unfinished task of evangelization. We believe the Gospel is God’s good news for the whole world, and we are determined by his grace to obey Christ’s commission to proclaim it to all mankind and to make disciples of every nation. We desire, therefore, to affirm our faith and our resolve, and to make public our covenant.

1. THE PURPOSE OF GOD

We affirm our belief in the one-eternal God, Creator and Lord of the world, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, who govern all things according to the purpose of his will. He has been calling out from the world a people for himself, and sending his people back into the world to be his servants and his witnesses, for the extension of his kingdom, the building up of Christ’s body, and the glory of his name. We confess with shame that we have often denied our calling and failed in our mission, by becoming conformed to the world or by withdrawing from it. Yet we rejoice that even when borne by earthen vessels the gospel is still a precious treasure. To the task of making that treasure known in the power of the Holy Spirit we desire to dedicate ourselves anew.
(Isa. 40:28; Matt. 28:19; Eph. 1:11; Acts 15:14; John 17:6, 18; Eph 4:12; 1 Cor. 5:10; Rom. 12:2; II Cor. 4:7)

2. THE AUTHORITY AND POWER OF THE BIBLE

We affirm the divine inspiration, truthfulness and authority of both Old and New Testament Scriptures in their entirety as the only written word of God, without error in all that it affirms, and the only infallible rule of faith and practice. We also affirm the power of God’s word to accomplish his purpose of salvation. The message of the Bible is addressed to all men and women. For God’s revelation in Christ and in Scripture is unchangeable. Through it the Holy Spirit still speaks today. He illumines the minds of God’s people in every culture to perceive its truth freshly through their own eyes and thus discloses to the whole Church ever more of the many-colored wisdom of God.
(II Tim. 3:16; II Pet. 1:21; John 10:35; Isa. 55:11; 1 Cor. 1:21; Rom. 1:16, Matt. 5:17,18; Jude 3; Eph. 1:17,18; 3:10,18)

3. THE UNIQUENESS AND UNIVERSALITY OF CHRIST

We affirm that there is only one Saviour and only one gospel, although there is a wide diversity of evangelistic approaches. We recognise that everyone has some knowledge of God through his general revelation in nature. But we deny that this can save, for people suppress the truth by their unrighteousness. We also reject as derogatory to Christ and the gospel every kind of syncretism and dialogue which implies that Christ speaks equally through all religions and ideologies. Jesus Christ, being himself the only God-man, who gave himself as the only ransom for sinners, is the only mediator between God and people. There is no other name by which we must be saved. All men and women are perishing because of sin, but God loves everyone, not wishing that any should perish but that all should repent. Yet those who reject Christ repudiate the joy of salvation and condemn themselves to eternal separation from God. To proclaim Jesus as “the Saviour of the world” is not to affirm that all people are either automatically or ultimately saved, still less to affirm that all religions offer salvation in Christ. Rather it is to proclaim God’s love for a world of sinners and to invite everyone to respond to him as Saviour and Lord in the wholehearted personal commitment of repentance and faith. Jesus Christ has been exalted above every other name; we long for the day when every knee shall bow to him and every tongue shall confess him Lord.
(Gal. 1:6-9;Rom. 1:18-32; I Tim. 2:5,6; Acts 4:12; John 3:16-19; II Pet. 3:9; II Thess. 1:7-9;John 4:42; Matt. 11:28; Eph. 1:20,21; Phil. 2:9-11)

4. THE NATURE OF EVANGELISM

To evangelize is to spread the good news that Jesus Christ died for our sins and was raised from the dead according to the Scriptures, and that as the reigning Lord he now offers the forgiveness of sins and the liberating gifts of the Spirit to all who repent and believe. Our Christian presence in the world is indispensable to evangelism, and so is that kind of dialogue whose purpose is to listen sensitively in order to understand. But evangelism itself is the proclamation of the historical, biblical Christ as Saviour and Lord, with a view to persuading people to come to him personally and so be reconciled to God. In issuing the gospel invitation we have no liberty to conceal the cost of discipleship. Jesus still calls all who would follow him to deny themselves, take up their cross, and identify themselves with his new community. The results of evangelism include obedience to Christ, incorporation into his Church and responsible service in the world.
(I Cor. 15:3,4; Acts 2: 32-39; John 20:21; I Cor. 1:23; II Cor. 4:5; 5:11,20; Luke 14:25-33; Mark 8:34; Acts 2:40,47; Mark 10:43-45)

5. CHRISTIAN SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY

We affirm that God is both the Creator and the Judge of all men. We therefore should share his concern for justice and reconciliation throughout human society and for the liberation of men and women from every kind of oppression. Because men and women are made in the image of God, every person, regardless of race, religion, colour, culture, class, sex or age, has an intrinsic dignity because of which he or she should be respected and served, not exploited. Here too we express penitence both for our neglect and for having sometimes regarded evangelism and social concern as mutually exclusive. Although reconciliation with other people is not reconciliation with God, nor is social action evangelism, nor is political liberation salvation, nevertheless we affirm that evangelism and socio-political involvement are both part of our Christian duty. For both are necessary expressions of our doctrines of God and man, our love for our neighbour and our obedience to Jesus Christ. The message of salvation implies also a message of judgment upon every form of alienation, oppression and discrimination, and we should not be afraid to denounce evil and injustice wherever they exist. When people receive Christ they are born again into his kingdom and must seek not only to exhibit but also to spread its righteousness in the midst of an unrighteous world. The salvation we claim should be transforming us in the totality of our personal and social responsibilities. Faith without works is dead.
(Acts 17:26,31; Gen. 18:25; Isa. 1:17; Psa. 45:7; Gen. 1:26,27; Jas. 3:9; Lev. 19:18; Luke 6:27,35; Jas. 2:14-26; Joh. 3:3,5; Matt. 5:20; 6:33; II Cor. 3:18; Jas. 2:20)

6. THE CHURCH AND EVANGELISM

We affirm that Christ sends his redeemed people into the world as the Father sent him, and that this calls for a similar deep and costly penetration of the world. We need to break out of our ecclesiastical ghettos and permeate non-Christian society. In the Church’s mission of sacrificial service evangelism is primary. World evangelization requires the whole Church to take the whole gospel to the whole world. The Church is at the very centre of God’s cosmic purpose and is his appointed means of spreading the gospel. But a church which preaches the cross must itself be marked by the cross. It becomes a stumbling block to evangelism when it betrays the gospel or lacks a living faith in God, a genuine love for people, or scrupulous honesty in all things including promotion and finance. The church is the community of God’s people rather than an institution, and must not be identified with any particular culture, social or political system, or human ideology.
(John 17:18; 20:21; Matt. 28:19,20; Acts 1:8; 20:27; Eph. 1:9,10; 3:9-11; Gal. 6:14,17; II Cor. 6:3,4; II Tim. 2:19-21; Phil. 1:27)

7. COOPERATION IN EVANGELISM

We affirm that the Church’s visible unity in truth is God’s purpose. Evangelism also summons us to unity, because our oneness strengthens our witness, just as our disunity undermines our gospel of reconciliation. We recognize, however, that organisational unity may take many forms and does not necessarily forward evangelism. Yet we who share the same biblical faith should be closely united in fellowship, work and witness. We confess that our testimony has sometimes been marred by a sinful individualism and needless duplication. We pledge ourselves to seek a deeper unity in truth, worship, holiness and mission. We urge the development of regional and functional cooperation for the furtherance of the Church’s mission, for strategic planning, for mutual encouragement, and for the sharing of resources and experience.
(John 17:21,23; Eph. 4:3,4; John 13:35; Phil. 1:27; John 17:11-23)

8. CHURCHES IN EVANGELISTIC PARTNERSHIP

We rejoice that a new missionary era has dawned. The dominant role of western missions is fast disappearing. God is raising up from the younger churches a great new resource for world evangelization, and is thus demonstrating that the responsibility to evangelise belongs to the whole body of Christ. All churches should therefore be asking God and themselves what they should be doing both to reach their own area and to send missionaries to other parts of the world. A reevaluation of our missionary responsibility and role should be continuous. Thus a growing partnership of churches will develop and the universal character of Christ’s Church will be more clearly exhibited. We also thank God for agencies which labor in Bible translation, theological education, the mass media, Christian literature, evangelism, missions, church renewal and other specialist fields. They too should engage in constant self-examination to evaluate their effectiveness as part of the Church’s mission.
(Rom. 1:8; Phil. 1:5; 4:15; Acts 13:1-3, I Thes. 1:6-8)
9. THE URGENCY OF THE EVANGELISTIC TASK

More than 2,700 million people, which is more than two-thirds of all humanity, have yet to be evangelised. We are ashamed that so many have been neglected; it is a standing rebuke to us and to the whole Church. There is now, however, in many parts of the world an unprecedented receptivity to the Lord Jesus Christ. We are convinced that this is the time for churches and para-church agencies to pray earnestly for the salvation of the unreached and to launch new efforts to achieve world evangelization. A reduction of foreign missionaries and money in an evangelised country may sometimes be necessary to facilitate the national church’s growth in self-reliance and to release resources for unevangelised areas. Missionaries should flow ever more freely from and to all six continents in a spirit of humble service. The goal should be, by all available means and at the earliest possible time, that every person will have the opportunity to hear, understand, and to receive the good news. We cannot hope to attain this goal without sacrifice. All of us are shocked by the poverty of millions and disturbed by the injustices which cause it. Those of us who live in affluent circumstances accept our duty to develop a simple life-style in order to contribute more generously to both relief and evangelism.
(John 9:4; Matt. 9:35-38; Rom. 9:1-3; I Cor. 9:19-23; Mark 16:15; Isa. 58:6,7; Jas. 1:27; 2:1-9; Matt. 25:31-46; Acts 2:44,45; 4:34,35)

10. EVANGELISM AND CULTURE

The development of strategies for world evangelization calls for imaginative pioneering methods. Under God, the result will be the rise of churches deeply rooted in Christ and closely related to their culture. Culture must always be tested and judged by Scripture. Because men and women are God’s creatures, some of their culture is rich in beauty and goodness. Because they are fallen, all of it is tainted with sin and some of it is demonic. The gospel does not presuppose the superiority of any culture to another, but evaluates all cultures according to its own criteria of truth and righteousness, and insists on moral absolutes in every culture. Missions have all too frequently exported with the gospel an alien culture and churches have sometimes been in bondage to culture rather than to Scripture. Christ’s evangelists must humbly seek to empty themselves of all but their personal authenticity in order to become the servants of others, and churches must seek to transform and enrich culture, all for the glory of God.
(Mark 7:8,9,13; Gen. 4:21,22; I Cor. 9:19-23; Phil. 2:5-7; II Cor. 4:5)

11. EDUCATION AND LEADERSHIP

We confess that we have sometimes pursued church growth at the expense of church depth, and divorced evangelism from Christian nurture. We also acknowledge that some of our missions have been too slow to equip and encourage national leaders to assume their rightful responsibilities. Yet we are committed to indigenous principles, and long that every church will have national leaders who manifest a Christian style of leadership in terms not of domination but of service. We recognise that there is a great need to improve theological education, especially for church leaders. In every nation and culture there should be an effective training programme for pastors and laity in doctrine, discipleship, evangelism, nurture and service. Such training programmes should not rely on any stereotyped methodology but should be developed by creative local initiatives according to biblical standards.
(Col. I:27,28; Acts 14:23; Tit. 1:5,9; Mark 10:42-45; Eph. 4:11,12)

12. SPIRITUAL CONFLICT

We believe that we are engaged in constant spiritual warfare with the principalities and powers of evil, who are seeking to overthrow the Church and frustrate its task of world evangelization. We know our need to equip ourselves with God’s armour and to fight this battle with the spiritual weapons of truth and prayer. For we detect the activity of our enemy, not only in false ideologies outside the Church, but also inside it in false gospels which twist Scripture and put people in the place of God. We need both watchfulness and discernment to safeguard the biblical gospel. We acknowledge that we ourselves are not immune to worldliness of thoughts and action, that is, to a surrender to secularism. For example, although careful studies of church growth, both numerical and spiritual, are right and valuable, we have sometimes neglected them. At other times, desirous to ensure a response to the gospel, we have compromised our message, manipulated our hearers through pressure techniques, and become unduly preoccupied with statistics or even dishonest in our use of them. All this is worldly. The Church must be in the world; the world must not be in the Church.
(Eph. 6:12; II Cor. 4:3,4; Eph. 6:11,13-18; II Cor. 10:3-5; I John 2:18-26; 4:1-3; Gal. 1:6-9; II Cor. 2:17; 4:2; John 17:15)

13. FREEDOM AND PERSECUTION

It is the God-appointed duty of every government to secure conditions of peace, justice and liberty in which the Church may obey God, serve the Lord Jesus Christ, and preach the gospel without interference. We therefore pray for the leaders of nations and call upon them to guarantee freedom of thought and conscience, and freedom to practise and propagate religion in accordance with the will of God and as set forth in The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We also express our deep concern for all who have been unjustly imprisoned, and especially for those who are suffering for their testimony to the Lord Jesus. We promise to pray and work for their freedom. At the same time we refuse to be intimidated by their fate. God helping us, we too will seek to stand against injustice and to remain faithful to the gospel, whatever the cost. We do not forget the warnings of Jesus that persecution is inevitable.
(I Tim. 1:1-4, Acts 4:19; 5:29; Col. 3:24; Heb. 13:1-3; Luke 4:18; Gal. 5:11; 6:12; Matt. 5:10-12; John 15:18-21)

14. THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

We believe in the power of the Holy Spirit. The Father sent his Spirit to bear witness to his Son; without his witness ours is futile. Conviction of sin, faith in Christ, new birth and Christian growth are all his work. Further, the Holy Spirit is a missionary spirit; thus evangelism should arise spontaneously from a Spirit-filled church. A church that is not a missionary church is contradicting itself and quenching the Spirit. Worldwide evangelization will become a realistic possibility only when the Spirit renews the Church in truth and wisdom, faith, holiness, love and power. We therefore call upon all Christians to pray for such a visitation of the sovereign Spirit of God that all his fruit may appear in all his people and that all his gifts may enrich the body of Christ. Only then will the whole world become a fit instrument in his hands, that the whole earth may hear his voice.
(I Cor. 2:4; John 15:26;27; 16:8-11; I Cor. 12:3; John 3:6-8; II Cor. 3:18; John 7:37-39; I Thess. 5:19; Acts 1:8; Psa. 85:4-7; 67:1-3; Gal. 5:22,23; I Cor. 12:4-31; Rom. 12:3-8)

15. THE RETURN OF CHRIST

We believe that Jesus Christ will return personally and visibly, in power and glory, to consummate his salvation and his judgment. This promise of his coming is a further spur to our evangelism, for we remember his words that the gospel must first be preached to all nations. We believe that the interim period between Christ’s ascension and return is to be filled with the mission of the people of God, who have no liberty to stop before the end. We also remember his warning that false Christs and false prophets will arise as precursors of the final Antichrist. We therefore reject as a proud, self-confident dream the notion that people can ever build a utopia on earth. Our Christian confidence is that God will perfect his kingdom, and we look forward with eager anticipation to that day, and to the new heaven and earth in which righteousness will dwell and God will reign forever. Meanwhile, we rededicate ourselves to the service of Christ and of people in joyful submission to his authority over the whole of our lives.
(Mark 14:62; Heb. 9:28; Mark 13:10; Acts 1:8-11; Matt. 28:20; Mark 13:21-23; John 2:18; 4:1-3; Luke 12:32; Rev. 21:1-5; II Pet. 3:13; Matt. 28:18)

CONCLUSION
Therefore, in the light of this our faith and our resolve, we enter into a solemn covenant with God and with each other, to pray, to plan and to work together for the evangelization of the whole world. We call upon others to join us. May God help us by his grace and for his glory to be faithful to this our covenant! Amen, Alleluia!
To our knowledge The Lausanne Covenant has been translated into over twenty languages. Fifteen years later, at Lausanne II in Manila in the Philippines in July 1989 the more than 3.000 participants at the Second International Congress on World Evangelization another important document was made: The Manila Manifesto