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Update from the President: December 28, 2017

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Update from the President

December 28, 2017

What a week this was, with the Winter Family Weekend just ending here in the Cincinnati area! It was the largest gathering since we started using the Great Wolf Lodge in 2011. On the Sabbath, we had 1,232 attendees assembled for services.

As mentioned last week, we had quite a variety of activities which were well attended. There were 44 volleyball teams that competed. This was 14 more than last year.

There was also an art exhibition, a dance for teens, a dance for adults and another for the whole family. I was grateful to mingle with many who came from afar and to be with our children and grandchildren.

Especially heartening for this event was seeing our emerging leadership. The Friday evening Bible Study was led by a newer pastor, Jay Ledbetter, and the Sabbath sermon by one of our newer elders, Andrew Lee. Messages were relevant and well-delivered.

In Africa, three couples de Campos, McNeelys and Myers are now all in South Africa conducting a leadership seminar during the time of an annual family summer camp which is held near Bloemfontein. I have appreciated seeing their travels on their Facebook pages as well as receiving text messages.

Lewis and Lena VanAusdle have returned from a year’s service in Lilongwe, Malawi, and will be reassigned in the United States.

Today the January/February issue of  Beyond Today  arrived with the cover article “In Our Modern World, Can We Trust the Bible?” by Darris McNeely. Darris McNeely and Peter Eddington recently visited the new Museum of the Bible in Washington D.C. There are many fine articles in this issue by Scott Ashley, Don Ward, Mario Seiglie, Janet Treadway and others.

Prayer: Three important Thys before the First US

When we pray, what is at the top of our minds? Our needs? Our condition? Even someone else’s trouble and trial?

When Jesus’ disciples asked Him for guidance on how to pray, He showed them not only what to pray for, but the order and broader framework in which to pray. These same priorities are all-important for setting the attitude and context for our communication with God. I want to share my thoughts on that with you.

However, even before Christ gave the pattern for prayer in Matthew 6, He prefaced His instruction in verse 8 with “…your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him” (Matthew 6:9 Matthew 6:9After this manner therefore pray you: Our Father which are in heaven, Hallowed be your name.
American King James Version×
). So, when we come to “remind” God of our needs, we are assured that our Father already totally understands us and our needs.

The first three elements of the model prayer of Matthew 6:9-13 Matthew 6:9-13 9 After this manner therefore pray you: Our Father which are in heaven, Hallowed be your name. 10 Your kingdom come, Your will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For your is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.
American King James Version×
orient us to who the Father is and what He does. Let’s take a closer look, paying close attention to the use of the word “thy.”

Matthew 6:9-10 Matthew 6:9-10 9 After this manner therefore pray you: Our Father which are in heaven, Hallowed be your name. 10 Your kingdom come, Your will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
American King James Version×
(King James Version): “After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.”

The model prayer starts by orienting us with three “thy”s. The reason I use what is now the archaic “thy” is because there is meaning in this word that is lost when in later translations it became blended into the word “your.”

In many languages there is the formal way of addressing those around you, as well as a familiar one. “Thy” or “thou” is the familiar form of addressing someone. It is reserved for those very close to you such as family or a dear friend. You would not think of addressing anyone outside your close circle in a familiar way, as it would be considered disrespectful. But, Jesus Christ taught us to address God using the familiar and not the formal.

My first language was Ukrainian and I always prayed in that language until about age 20, when I switched to English. In Ukrainian, familiar and formal are distinctly used. I spoke to my family only in the familiar. And, this is the way God wants us to address Him!  God wants us to speak to Him in a close familial and familiar manner. He is the One to whom we cry “Abba, Father.” “Ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father” (Romans 8:15 Romans 8:15For you have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but you have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.
American King James Version×
KJV). “Abba” is an Aramaic word for father, used by Jesus and Paul to address God in a relation of personal intimacy. This is the spirit which is characteristic of those who are taken to be sons, who, like baptized Christians, are admitted into this close family relationship.

Let’s take a look where this closeness prioritizes the model prayer.

Here’s what Jesus taught: “After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name” (Matthew 6:9 Matthew 6:9After this manner therefore pray you: Our Father which are in heaven, Hallowed be your name.
American King James Version×
).

We focus on our Father’s name, His identity, His occupation, His life. We acknowledge and thank Him as our Creator. This sets the tone and voice for the remainder of our prayer.

Next we pray, Thy Kingdom Come (Matthew 6:10 Matthew 6:10Your kingdom come, Your will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
American King James Version×
). This is a reference to the future God is preparing and to our current work. It is what we’re to be busy doing, whether it be in our ministry or our mastering ourselves in preparation for eternity. This reference to the Kingdom is also the addendum to this prayer outline: “For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen” (Matthew 6:13 Matthew 6:13And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For your is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.
American King James Version×
). And an instruction at the end of the chapter: “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness” (Matthew 6:33 Matthew 6:33But seek you first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.
American King James Version×
).

The third “thy” is “Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10 Matthew 6:10Your kingdom come, Your will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
American King James Version×
).

Once again, attention is placed on God and what He’s doing. Do we kneel before God, asking to understand better what He is doing? Seeking to understand His heart and perspective? His strategy? His Purpose for mankind and for us, personally? Or, do we have our own assertive ideas that prevent us from understanding what our Father in Heaven is planning? Jesus Himself came to the earth to fulfill His Father’s will and said: “I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me” (John 5:30 John 5:30I can of my own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not my own will, but the will of the Father which has sent me.
American King James Version×
). Should we not be eager to do the same? Christ’s outline for prayer reminds us of that. Our lives should be linked to what the Apostle Paul said in Ephesians 5:17 Ephesians 5:17Why be you not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.
American King James Version×
: “Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.”

In our prayers we all need to cover these three elements thoroughly before we get to the “Give us this daily bread” and the other requests. Remember that we are coming to our Father in a very personal and familial way.

Daily, I know I must get a perspective of God’s greatness and involvement in His Church and my life. I pray earnestly with urgency for His Kingdom to come and for me to do my part in proclaiming it. I pray that I understand God’s Will and not my own fixations on private ambitions or personal contrarian thought that can become an idol.

Let’s pray with this in mind. In doing so we will draw closer to our Father, and He who knows what we need even before we ask, will answer our prayer in His wisdom and love.