Tech Soup

Twitter. Vod:Pod. WordPress. Tiny URLs. Should I be ashamed to admit that I had heard of none of these prior to 2008? It’s a challenge to keep up with technology these days, but I’m having a ton of fun trying! One of the things I hugely appreciate about these utilities is their ability to interact with one another. It may be a small thing, but I’m grateful that Twitter sends facebook my ‘status’ so I don’t need to type it twice. I love how easily Vod:Pod integrates YouTube videos to my WordPress blog. And I laugh at the thought of how incomprehensible my last couple of sentences would be to someone unfamiliar with the internet!

Seriously though, as I continue to anticipate the September 7 launch of The Well, I confess that I have leaned heavily upon these internet resources to help ‘get the word out.’

In particular, this blog has been the ‘hub’ of information for my ministry endeavours and theological musings, since it is more accessible than the task specific utilities. Recently, on facebook, I added the Blog Networks application in an effort to give this blog more exposure. If you enjoy this blog, and if you are a facebook user, I’d be grateful for your ‘adding my blog’ at http://apps.facebook.com/blognetworks/blogpage.php?blogid=5108.

If you are interested in our ministry, The Well, I have a few links to recommend:

The Well > facebook group

The Well Launch > facebook event

The Well > homepage

You may have noticed that I’ve posted some new videos using Vod:Pod (right side of blog). You can track the videos I add through a ‘following’ function that is similar to Twitter. If you’ve ever spent ridiculous hours searching through YouTube for quality videos you can appreciate how much easier it will be to find videos through tracking folks with similar tastes on Vod:Pod.

After saying all that, I still feel like I’m scratching the surface here. May be you can help. Got a useful utility to recommend? How about a facebook application? Or a YouTube video?

Sorry to cut this short; time to update my twitter status!

Prayer That Works

I suspect that most people who consider themselves to be followers of Jesus understand the importance of prayer. We understand that we ought to meaningfully, and regularly, engage the One to whom we owe our allegiance. Where I have noted some discrepancy, however, is in our understanding of the manner of prayer and in our expectations of what our prayer will accomplish.

In terms of the manner of our prayer, I have found it helpful to consult multiple passages since no single passage offers an exhaustive ‘how to’ on this subject. Among my favourites are Matthew 6:5-15, Colossians 4:2-4, and James 5:13-18. In terms of our expectations for answered prayer, I have observed there to be an extremely wide spectrum. Without meaning to sound unkind, there are some, I fear, who treat prayer in a way that more closely resembles magic than anything found in the biblical text. Others, having experienced an abundance of so called ‘unanswered prayer’, no longer expect their prayers to have any meaningful effect on their circumstances.

As I read James 5:13-18 in particular, I not only find a prescription to a particular manner for prayer, but I also find assurance that if I follow the prescription I can actually expect a positive result. Yes, James frames for us a most optimistic outlook: “the prayer offered in faith will make the sick* person well” (James 5:15).

[*I am indebted to the work of John MacArthur for coaching me through the Greek text on this. Having tracked MacArthur's exegesis, I entirely concur with his conclusion: "sick" (v.14, v.15) is not the best translation of the two words employed by James. More boldly, the rendering of "sick" misleads the average reader and makes us vulnerable to skewed theology, on the one hand, and profound disappointment, on the other.]

While James is not prescribing a way of praying that heals us from infections and life-threatening diseases, he is exhorting us to something that WILL make us grow as Christians. If we follow James’ prescription, I am confident that we can have our strength renewed and our vigour for the things of Christ revitalized.

If that’s something that interests you, I invite you to have a listen. Or, if you’re simply curious to hear my interpretation of “sickness” and prayer, I encourage you to play the audio.

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Are You Patient?

Wouldn’t it be great to become more patient without having to wait? Or maybe you’ve heard of the prayer, ‘Lord, give me patience…but please hurry it up!’ Most of us, I suspect, think of patience as our capacity to wait, or our capacity to cope with a slow moving process.

Sometimes I make the mistake of telling my 5 year-old early in the day that we’re going to McDonald’s for dinner, ‘Papa, is it time to go to McDonald’s yet?’ After fielding that question five times within the hour, I respond, ‘Anya, I need you to be patient.’ Fellow Toronto-nians recognize the need to be patient when setting out to travel on the 401. Long lines at the bank, the post office, and the restaurant, all call for us to be patient.

This past Sunday at St. Giles Kingsway we studied a passage in James about patience (James 5:7-11). Interestingly though, the call to patience isn’t a call to tolerate long line-ups or traffic jams. The Greek word employed by James literally means ‘steadfast’ and implies ‘the holding of one’s position when being tempted to run away.’ In other words, biblical patience isn’t so much about our capacity to wait as it is about our capacity to maintain our faith in the presence of adversity. A patient person, in the biblical sense, is someone who can stay the course when everything around them is threatening to throw them off course. Succinctly put, biblical patience is about the character of your faith under pressure.

James cites the Hebrew prophets, and Job, as examples of individuals who remained steadfast in the day of trial. Those examples inspire me. In the message I delivered this past Sunday, I added to the list of patient saints, Horatio Spafford, who penned the hymn ‘It Is Well With My Soul’ while grieving the tragic death of his four daughters. O, how I long to have a faith that can withstand life’s fiercest storms!

I invite you to have a listen. Perhaps you’ll find something to help you gain patience and strength for the challenges you are facing.

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As always, I hugely appreciate hearing from you in the Comments section.