Beliefnet
Prayer, Plain and Simple

“God, frustrate Iran’s effort to build a nuclear weapon!”

Shahram Amiri, an Iranian nuclear scientist, missing since last summer has defected to the U.S. and is assisting the CIA in its efforts to undermine Iran’s nuclear program. That is good news for the world. Iran has defended its nuclear development program and is widely believed to be racing toward development of nuclear weapons. In recent years Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has overtly threatened both Israel and the United States. Iranian possession of the nuclear weapon is seen as an existential threat by both Israel and the U.S.

We pray today that God would work against the Iranian government in their ambition.

“God, while you love the Iranian people, you are against violence, injustice, and hatred. The Iranian government has sworn violence against your people Israel and against the United States. They have leveraged their resources to pursue building a weapon that would make their threats extremely dangerous. While Israel and the United States weighs their option to stop this effort we ask you to intervene and frustrate this ambition. Bring more defectors out to light. God, engineer technical problems that will slow their research and development. Give Iranians who oppose their government courage and wisdom to know how to act effectively and wisely against this regime. Give Iranian expatriates hope that their nation will one day become a bastion of freedom and enlightenment. God, save Iran and so save the world from Iran. Awaken her people to your presence and your true character. Give them a knowledge of your true love and justice and grace. Show them Jesus. In Jesus’ name…”

The “Christian Warriors” are not… NOT Christian…

The nine members of this anti-government militia group charged Monday with conspiring to kill a law-enforcement officer in an effort to start a “war” against the U.S. government are NOT Jesus-Followers. Plain and simple, they are “fruitcake-lugnut-apocalyptic-extremists” and true disciples of Jesus should boldly disavow any connection with their wackiness. I do.     

“God, you love goodness and hate evil. And those generate evil in the false pretense of fighting it are themselves your enemies. God, your name is “Shalom.” Yes, it is true that right must fight, but the weapons of our warfare are not the weapons of this world. At times we must resist evil in physical and tangible ways, but we are never to be driven by fear or the false imaginations of our conspiracies. We trust you and we stand in rest and peace, with prayer and faith. Expose the lies of those who use your name to perpetrate anger and division and violence. And in the place of lies bring your truth and your supernatural love and the power of your grace… In Jesus.”

Physicists are looking for God… again.

The Hadron Collider, the world’s largest, most powerful particle accelerator called went into action this morning. The drama is playing out – at this moment – inside a 17-mile tunnel on the border between Switzerland and France. The $10 billion research tool is supposed to send proton beams racing in opposite directions around a 17-mile oval then attempt to make them collide at high energy so scientists can then observe what happens at the instant of the crash. They hope these experiments will answer fundamental questions about the universe such as why Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity – which describes the world on a large scale – doesn’t jibe with quantum mechanics, which explains the behavior of very small parts of the nature.  Some believe that the collider will reveal new properties of the universe such as the as-yet theoretical Higgs boson, sometimes called “the God particle.”

We’ll see!

The European collider has been dogged by problems and controversy. In 2008 the 25,000 joints that connect the 17 mile loop of magnets came loose. And last year a bird apparently dropped a “bit of baguette” into the accelerator forcing researchers to shut down. And from its inception some physicists have issued dire warnings that colliding particles at this pace could incite dire consequences – like creating a black hole that would swallow our galaxy.

Hmm.

God has given us remarkable curiosity and a creative capacity to act on our own wonder. I think he delights in our delight to explore the outer reaches of our world. He welcomes our questions, our theories, our plots and experiments. He has invited us, “search.”

But God never promises that we will find all the answers on our own. He says, “Seek and you will find,” but he warns that searches cannot succeed if we dive into the question without his counsel and guidance. God does want us to know truth, but he warns us that Truth (capital “T” is only found in Him and with him. God himself is Truth itself. And for that matter he has to REVEAL himself. The initiative comes from God. He comes to find us, then peels back the layers of mystery. He’s the Great Father who plays hide and seek with his children and calls from behind the couch so that we know exactly where to look. He gives us the dignity of the search then comes close to us so we can’t miss, if we really want to see.

The stumbling stone is that we often don’t want to find GOD himself. We want truths about the world, to satisfy our curiosity, but the KNOW God, in an intimate and personal encounter is another matter. There may be a “God particle” at the bottom of the barrel of the world, but we won’t find God himself there. He can’t be known about, he can only be known and experienced. He’s a person, not a piece of stuff.

“God, we want to know you. You have given us curiosity to learn and discover the secrets of your world. Thank you for blessing us with the dignity of wonder. Bless all these scientists who are searching so diligently to learn how nature is woven together. Help them to think creatively and to walk humbly in their tasks. Give them insight and focus as the glimpse down into the heart of things. But call them beyond what they observe. Call them and all of us who are watching with them to yourself. We want to know you, not just know about you and your world. Give us an encounter. Collide with us, soul to Spirit. In Jesus…”

“Love your enemies,” Jesus said. But what does “love” mean in face of senseless violence? That’s the question pressed by the film “Amish Grace” aired last night on Lifetime Movie Network.

The feature is based on the events of the morning of October 2, 2006, when Charles Carl Roberts walked into a one-room schoolhouse in the Old Order Amish community of Nickel Mines, a village in Bart Township of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, took hostages and then shot and killed five girls, aged 6-13. Roberts then committed suicide.

The horror itself shocked the entire nation; but in many ways the response of the Amish community shocked us even more. The family and friends of the slain children chose to forgive Charles Roberts…  We’re used to violence; we are not used to forgiveness. Is this what Jesus meant when he commanded us to “love” our enemies.

The Amish are a Christian sect who seek to lead quiet and separated lives. They have consciously removed themselves from the tumult of modern life, and choose, simplicity, faith, hard work, community living, and family. Their homes have no electricity and they do not drive cars. They are also pacifist, interpreting Jesus’ message that we should “love our enemies” to mean that we should never forcefully resist evil and that we must extend grace in face of even the worst offenses. Thus, their former forgiveness of Charles Roberts for the senseless murder of their children was a faithful expression of their form of Christian discipleship.

here’s a question: Yes, as Christians we are to love our enemies. But what does love look like? The film explores the dynamics of pain, grief, forgiveness and faith from an Amish perspective. But are their other faithful forms of Christian faith? Can it also be loving to use force to stop evil? Is it ever loving, as a last resort to even take the life of a violent person in order to stop their acts of violence? These are ancient and troubling questions. We need divine wisdom to respond…

“God, we pray for those who suffer injustice and those who suffer senseless violence. We pray that your justice will reign. We also pray for the gift of grace and mercy in these situations. And we pray that victims will find the wisdom they need in every situation to express the two sides of your character – both love and justice. In Jesus…”  

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