Loving God, Loving God’s People

“It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God” (Acts 15:19).

How does a church make it difficult for today’s Gentiles from turning to God?

As the first Christians were trying to establish the church in a non-Christian majority world, today’s church finds itself in a world that is far from Christian. In the Pacific Northwest, Christians are in the minority as we only represent a single digit percentage of the population.

What is it that the church must be about that paves the way for people who are far from God to turn to God? What are the things that we must destroy and uproot in order so that the church doesn’t make it difficult for people to turn to God?

Be all about the love and the grace of Jesus Christ. When most people think about the church, one of the first things they think about are the commands, the rules of the church. But what is amazing is that less than 10% of the Bible is commands! Most of the bible is narrative. Most of the Bible is stories, poems, and illustrations of how much God loves a fallen and broken world and how this God pursues this world with absolute abandon. That’s the story of the Bible. 

How did it get to the point when 90% of the Bible is a narrative of how much God loves sinners and all that the world knows about the church is rules and commands?

The travesty is that the church somehow has taken the incredible grace and love of Jesus Christ and turned it into a bunch of rules. So much so, that when people think about the church today, they first think of rules rather than experiencing the grace and love of Jesus Christ.

Little Church and Lakewoodgrace, how can we be better about sharing the greatest love story? How can we be about letting Lakewood and beyond know that God loves them?

It will start when we get better at loving the people around us.

I thank God that you are an amazingly gracious and giving congregation. Keep it up! Let’s keep sharing God’s resources with our neighbors that they cannot help but see God at work through his church.

Thy Kingdom Come

“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come” (Matthew 6:9-10).


There it is. “Thy” not “my”.

It’s not about you, not about me. It’s not about the Little Church on the Prairie nor Lakewoodgrace. It’s not about the United States nor America. It’s all about God. It’s never been about you or me. It’s always been about God.

When we pray, “Thy,” we are re-orienting ourselves from an ego-centric way of living to get our bearings on God. When we remember who God is and who we are, we begin correctly seeing everything as belonging to God – our lives, this world, time, finances, everything.


The Kingdom Jesus ushers in is not a physical location but refers to a way of living, a new reality. The kingdom Jesus refers to is a kingdom where God’s will and purpose is being accomplished. It’s the place where God’s reign rules.

This is the kingdom where God’s rule, peace, joy, and purposes are being lived out. People are living with purpose and meaning. Lives are being changed and impacted. People who are far from God find their place in God. This is the kingdom of God.

This kingdom is realized when disciples “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness” (Matthew 6:33).


To pray God’s kingdom come means that we not only desire for God’s rule to be the reality but that we participate in the coming of God’s kingdom. God’s kingdom comes through us. God’s kingdom is established wherever disciples follow and obey God’s will and purposes.

God’s kingdom is not wishful thinking or a worthy desire. God’s kingdom is the reality which we are invited to participate and establish by following and obeying God.

So, what does all this mean for us?

When we pray, “Thy kingdom come”, it means we recognize:

  • “Thy” – living a life that reflects that everything belongs to God, that this life is not about us. “Thy” tells us it’s all about God
  • “Kingdom” – this is the world God created. God has given to us everything to make our lives abundant. It’s in God’s kingdom where all our lives find meaning and purpose.
  • “Come” – God establishes his kingdom through disciples who “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness.” God’s kingdom is established when disciples follow and obey God’s will.

Whenever we pray “Thy Kingdom Come” we get to participate in God establishing his rule and will in this world as we follow and obey God’s will.

What a prayer!

What’s In a Name?

“Hallowed be thy name.”

For us, a name is just a name. It’s something we call someone. Some names are more meaningful to us because of the person behind those names.

In the Jewish culture names were far more than just something we call someone. Names reflected a person’s destiny, their character, the essence of their identity.

For us, we find certain names meaningful because of our experiences with those particular individuals. For the Jews the person became the persons that their names meant.

  • God changed the name of Abram, meaning “exalted father,” to Abraham, meaning “father of the multitudes” after Abraham fathers Isaac.
  • God changed the name of Jacob, meaning “heel catcher” or “trickster” to Israel, meaning “one who strives with God” after Jacob wrestled with God.
  • Jesus changed the name of Simon, meaning “one who hears” to Peter, meaning “rock.”

Names weren’t merely something we called someone but describes the character, the nature, the destiny of an individual. The individual became what the name meant.

When Moses asked God what name he should tell the Israelites was the name of the God sending him to rescue them from Egypt, God replied, “Say to this people of Israel, ‘I am’ has sent me to you. The name I am is YHWH or Yahweh. The name of God YHWH is linked to the concept of self-existence.

God’s name was thought to be so holy that Jews not utter it aloud for fear of profaning God’s name. Even today, many Jews will write “G-d” in order to show reverence to God’s name.

So what does all this mean to us?

Great question.

Jesus says in John 14:14, “If you ask for anything in my name I will do it.”

Also, we end every prayer with the phrase, “We pray this in the name of Jesus.”

When we say this, we are simply saying, “This request expresses not only my wishes, but Jesus’ will too.” It reflects Jesus’ will, his interest, his character, and his authority. When we pray in Jesus’ name we are not only asking for this for ourselves. We are asking on behalf of Jesus.

Knowing this changes what we pray for. Are our prayers reflective of God’s will? If not, we are not praying in Jesus’ name.

Everything changes when we pray in the name of Jesus.