Rooster Cogburn . . . On Parenting

One night, in the craziness of the bedtime routine with the kids, I happened to think of a quote from True Grit. Rooster wasn’t giving parenting advice, but his wisdom seems transferable. You parents know what I mean.

You go for a man hard enough and fast enough, he don’t have time to think about how many’s with him. He thinks about hisself, and how he might get clear of that wrath that’s about to set down on him.

Jesus Left Out “In Jesus’ Name”

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When Jesus gave us the Lord’s Prayer, he left out the phrase “in Jesus’ name.” Was it an oversight? A slip of the divine mind? Everyone knows that a prayer doesn’t count without saying those words! Yet in the Lord’s Prayer–our model for praying–Jesus doesn’t include them.

Father,

hallowed be your name.

Your kingdom come.

Give us each day our daily bread,

and forgive us our sins,
for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us.

And lead us not into temptation.

(Luke 11:2-4)

Though the phrase “in Jesus’ name” isn’t present, the Lord’s Prayer is a prayer in Jesus’ name. The first word makes it so, and every successive line depends upon it.

Father – How can one rightly address God as Father? Only through Jesus. By trusting in the Son of God, you can pray as a child of God. The Son’s Father becomes your Father when you receive the Son by faith (cf. John 1:12; Gal 3:26). Outside of Jesus, you can’t get past the first word of the Lord’s Prayer.

Hallowed be your name – Can a person honor God as holy while dishonoring Jesus? Jews and Muslims try to do so. Yet “no one who denies the Son has the Father” (1 John 2:23). To hallow God’s name necessitates hallowing Jesus’ name.

Your kingdom come – Is there any other way for God’s kingdom to come except through Jesus? It’s a laughable question. Jesus is the King.

Give us each day our daily bread – Through whom do we receive all the blessings of the Father? Jesus has purchased grace for every need.

Forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us – Is any sin forgiven apart from the death and resurrection of Jesus? God pardons our sin in no other name.

Lead us not into temptation – On what basis does the Father empower us to escape temptation if not through the Spirit of Jesus, who triumphed over sin and Satan?

Jesus didn’t include the phrase “in Jesus’ name” in the Lord’s Prayer, but he didn’t have to. From the opening address to God as Father, through each petition that follows, the Lord’s Prayer is profoundly dependent upon the person and work of Jesus.

So, don’t think of “in Jesus’ name” as a mechanical, or even a magical, conclusion to prayer. Much better would be to pray your entire prayer with Jesus in mind, because you grasp how gloriously central he is to everything God is doing in the world and in your life.

 

It Matters Where You Look

Remember, therefore,

it is not your hold of Christ that saves you—it is Christ;
it is not your joy in Christ that saves you—it is Christ;
it is not even faith in Christ, although that is the instrument—

it is Christ’s blood and merits; therefore,

don’t be fixing your eyes so much on your hand with which you are grasping Christ, as on Christ;

don’t be looking at your hope, but to Jesus, the source of your hope;

don’t be looking to your faith, but to Jesus, the author and finisher of your faith.

We shall never find happiness by looking at our prayers, our doings, or our feelings; it is what Jesus is, not what we are, that gives rest to the soul.

If we would at once overcome Satan and have peace with God, it must be by “fixing our eyes on Jesus.” Simply keep your eye on Him; let

His death,
His sufferings,
His merits,
His glories,
His intercession,

be fresh upon your mind;

when you wake in the morning look to Him;
when you lie down at night look to Him.

Oh! don’t let your hopes or fears come between you and Jesus; follow closely after Him, and He will never fail you.

       My hope is built on nothing less
       Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness:
       I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
       But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

— Charles Spurgeon, “June 28 – Morning,” Morning and Evening

Throw You Like a Ball

The book of Isaiah is, among other things, a repetitive call for humility before the might and majesty of God. One of the most gripping images of God taking down the proud is directed toward Shebna, a man who built monuments to himself. In addition to what appears to be straight-up mockery (”O you strong man”), we are given an unforgettable picture of Shebna’s end:

Behold, the Lord will hurl you away violently, O you strong man. He will seize firm hold on you and whirl you around and around, and throw you like a ball into a wide land. (Isaiah 22:17-18)

Two quick takeaways: (1) Don’t overlook the rich imagery of Scripture, especially in prophecy and poetry. As you read, let the multitude of metaphors light your imagination on fire. Can’t you just see strong Shebna being seized, whirled around and around, and violently hurled through the air like a ball being thrown so far away you can’t even see where it lands? Dadgum. That’s quite a picture. Train yourself to see these pictures in the Bible. Imagery is everywhere, on every page. The Bible is 3D, so don’t just read it. See it.

(2) Quit trying to be awesome. “Hurl you” and “whirl you” and “throw you” are not things you want God to do to you. Here is the one to whom God looks: “He who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word” (66:2).

The Easter Sheep

Forget the Easter Bunny. Let’s talk about the Easter Sheep.

What? You’ve never heard of the Easter Sheep? He’s different from the Easter Bunny in a number of ways. The most obvious difference is that, well, he’s a sheep, which isn’t the same thing as a bunny. A more significant difference is that the Easter Sheep doesn’t come to you like the Easter Bunny does (at least not at first). Rather, you go to him. And the most important difference of all is that you aren’t expecting to get anything from the Easter Sheep, like you would from the Easter Bunny. Sorry, no baskets of candy or chocolate. Quite to the contrary, your plan is for the Easter Sheep to receive a gift from you.

Who is the Easter Sheep? He’s your family member who doesn’t follow Jesus. She’s your classmate or coworker who doesn’t know the Lord. He’s your neighbor who hasn’t believed the gospel. She’s your friend who has never repented and believed in Christ. The Easter Sheep is anyone who one day becomes a Christian due in part to you seeking them out.

Jesus once asked, “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it?” (Luke 15:4). What kind of person, Jesus wonders, would be so careless as to disregard one who is lost? Going after lost sheep is what any good shepherd would do. It’s what Jesus himself did.

Easter is about Jesus seeking out his lost sheep. In his brutal death on the cross and glorious resurrection on the third day, Jesus was being our Good Shepherd. He was seeking and saving the lost. He was laying down his life for the eternal safety of the sheep. Now you and I have the privilege of sharing the good news of his salvation with those who are lost.

Easter is a uniquely strategic time to interact with your lost family and friends more intentionally with the gospel. Despite our culture’s downgrade in appreciation for Christianity, there remains some level of openness to spiritual conversation and attending a church service. According to NAMB and Lifeway Research, “67 percent of Americans say a personal invitation from a family member would be very or somewhat effective in getting them to visit a church. A personal invitation from a friend or neighbor would effectively reach 63 percent.” These percentages peak around Easter (even more so at Christmas).

So here’s a plan: Invite someone to join you at church this Sunday. That’s simple. You can do it. After church, ask them what stood out to them about the service in general and the sermon in particular. Let the sermon be a springboard to listen to their thoughts about Jesus and to clarify the gospel to them. Who knows? Maybe your friend will go home Easter Sunday afternoon as a new creation in Christ.

This Easter, go after the Easter Sheep. It’s one of the greatest ways you can love your neighbor.