Sin – a bouquet of words


Sin is a word without much meaning in our culture.  It seems very old fashioned.  Does anyone understand what it means to “live in sin.”  Do we agree that we “sin in word and deed”?

Here in Wisconsin we have lots of words for winter weather – we could just say cold, but we can also say sleet, snow, heavy snow, blizzard, thunder snow (yes that exists), frost, frozen rain, powder, slush, wet, dry, and so on.  Why so many ways to talk about it? because we have it from mid November to Spring. (Basically from the end of the World’s Series to Spring Training.)

The Biblical words for sin are multiple.  Sin can be transgression, corruption, stain, debt, missing the mark, willful, secret, high handed, wicked.

Psalm 32 has a glossary of sorts:  Psalm 32:1-2

Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven,
    whose sin is covered.
Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity,
    and in whose spirit there is no deceit.

The Lord’s Prayer is rendered two ways in Matthew and Luke

Matthew 6:12

and forgive us our debts,
    as we also have forgiven our debtors.

Luke 11:4

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

The Bible is the Word of God and it was written by people who were very concerned with a life with God and under his blessing. Hence words that relate to God are common. “theo-logical” – means god (theo) words (logoi).

So while we don’t have “sin” in our cultural vocabulary, we have other words:

unfair, guilty, biased, racist, sexist, specieist, hateful, greedy, crooked, liar, sneaky, selfish, stingy, mean, law breakers, elitist, crude, violent, aggressive, abusive, addicted, willfully ignorant, and verbose to name a few.

So we do believe in sin, but we see it human centered, or centered specifically against ourselves.  We do not see it so much as against God.

Yet, he is not far from us.  We let him sneak back in whenever we talk about justice or fairness.




Quiet Time



We’ve been talking about prayer this season. Here is a page on setting up a basic time for prayer.

Click link for a copy of the worksheet:   quiet-time

There are a lot of parts to a prayer life. We can make it complicated, or we can keep it simple.  Here is a simple place to start: HELP


HAVE a place and time

  • Time:
  • Place:

ENTER God’s presence.

  • Take a moment to relax, take a breath.
  • Open with a simple prayer like, “Lord, hear my prayer.”

LISTEN to the word of God


  • Following the Lord’s Prayer – “A Model Prayer”
  • Responding to today’s reading
  • Keep a prayer list.

(Grace: it can be helpful to forgive yourself if you miss a day. It is worth considering an option like taking a walk, listening to gospel music, enjoying a hobby…)

FOGBOM – “Our Father”


“Our Father in Heaven…”

In the 1960s it was popular to talk about all people as being under the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of Man.  One man who ran for President, Nelson Rockefeller, used this expression all the time.  His aids began to shorten it from “the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of Man” to “FOGBOM.”

We hear this in general. We might refer to fellow Americans as brothers or sisters. Soldiers may refer to brothers in arms.  One person may refer to another person of the same race, or of the same team as a “brother” or a “sister.”  I have not argument with that in general usage.  It is true that we should view all of our fellow citizens as a kind of family.  Everyone in American should get the same family privileges as everyone else.  The Pledge speaks of “liberty and justice for all.”

the Bible uses the expression of Father in a different way.  Not all people can call God their Father in this sense.  That is because the world as a whole and individuals in their lives start in life as foreigners, exiles and even enemies of God.  The Gospel invites those who are far away to come near.

Consider Prodigal son.  You know this story.  A  Father had two sons. The younger one asked his father to give him his inheritance. This was an incredibly rude thing to do; it amounted to him saying “I can’t wait for you to die.  I want my money now.”  The Father gave him his money and the son blew the wad on wild living.  Soon he was feeding the pigs of a farmer in a foreign land, which would be a bad occupation for someone Jewish. He even began to steal food from the pigs.  That is as bad as it got.

He said to himself, I’ll go home.  Even dad’s servants have it better than this. I’ll go home and ask to be a servant.  As he approached home, his Father ran out and embraced him; he gave him a robe and a ring to show his dignity as a son.  He welcomed him back.

We are not children of God by nature. By nature we are lost, like the prodigal, each in our own unique pig pen.  We are created  and loved by God.  We are far off and away from Him because of our own choices.   When we return we are adopted as sons and daughters.   We are sons and daughters who are welcomed and celebrated.

Jesus invited followers to pray to God as our Father.  This is radical.  We are not alienated sinners any longer. We are the adopted children of God.

15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.                                                                                                    Romans 8:15-16


Two Brits on the Lord’s Prayer


I have over the years enjoyed British pastor/theologians.  Among those who find a place in my library are John Stott,  Martyn Lloyd-Jones and J. I. Packer.  It can’t be the accent, because there are paper books.  It has to do with a commitment to scholarship for the church.  They avoid the error of scholarship for scholarship’s sake – the Bible was not sent to us for analysis only.  It avoids the error of simple mindedness – as one of these authors titled a book, “Your Mind Matters.”

Here are two quotes on the value of the Lord’s Prayer as a model for praying.

“So the Lord’s Prayer should be put to service to direct and spur on our praying constantly.  To pray in terms of it is the sure way to keep our prayers within God’s will; to pray through it, expanding the clauses as you go along, is the sure way to prime the pump when prayer dries up and you find yourself stuck. We never get beyond this prayer; not only is it the Lord’s first lesson in praying, it is all the other lessons too. Lord, teach us to pray.”

– J. I. Packer, “Praying the Lord’s Prayer”, Crossway, 2007, p. 17,18

“The Lord’s Prayer covers everything; and all we do is to take these principles and employ and expand them and base our every petition upon them. That is the way in which it is to be approached.

Martyn Lloyd-Jones, “Studies in the Sermon on the Mount”, IVP 1959-1960, p. II. 49

Praying for Leaders – I Timothy 2:1-5


We have heard this passage in church, and we KNOW we should pray for our leaders, but HOW should we do it.

I have adapted this from a flier put out by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association: (Prayer Guide)

Praying for our Leaders

Fill in the names for where you live. Each day pick one or two to pray for…

President Barak Obama

 Cabinet Members:



 Supreme Court:

 Military Leaders:


 State legislature:


 Police Department:


 Fire Department:

 Schools and Teachers:

 Social Service Agencies:

 Leaders of Other Nations:

 The front page of the Newspaper

You can pray using words and thoughts from Scripture…


  • “Help ______ accept wise counsel.” Prov. 11:14
  •  “Teach ______ to trust in you.” Psalm 21:7
  • “Protect ______ from the influence of the evil one.” 2 Thessalonians 3:3
  • Give ________ wisdom, foresight and understanding in making decisions. I Chronicles 22:12
  • “Protect _______ from harm and bless his/her family. Psalm 21:11
  • Give ________ courage to do the right thing even when urged to do the wrong thing.” Prov 2:11-15
  • Give _______ a tender heart of compassion to those she/he leads and serves. Col 3:12
  • “Bless ______ with strength, endurance and stamina.” I Chronicles 16:11
  • “Help all those, including ______________­­­_____, who help those in need.” 

“I urge…. that petitions, prayers, intercessions and thanksgiving be made for all people – for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.  This is good and pleases God our Savior.”                                                        I Timothy 2:1-3


Who shall we blame?


There was a shooting in my neighborhood last week.  A young man is dead.  Blame and accusation lay close by.  Lots of citizens have worked hard to speak truthfully while maintaining peace.  All the same, I can feel sides taking shape.  Who shall we blame?  There is a state-run investigation and we all will have to wait for the full evidence of what happened to become public record.

I was thinking of an entirely different situation in the scriptures.  But when Nehemiah heard of the broken down walls of Jerusalem, although he lived safely in the far distance, he was captured by the need to pray and lament the condition of his people, the people of Abraham.  After some days of lamenting, he prayed. I have only highlighted words to show who Nehemiah blamed.

“O Lord God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, let your ear be attentive and your eyes open, to hear the prayer of your servant that I now pray before you day and night for the people of Israel your servants,confessing the sins of the people of Israel, which we have sinned against you. Even I and my father’s house have sinned. We have acted very corruptly against you and have not kept the commandments, the statutes, and the rules that you commanded your servant Moses. Remember the word that you commanded your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the peoples, but if you return to me and keep my commandments and do them, though your outcasts are in the uttermost parts of heaven, from there I will gather them and bring them to the place that I have chosen, to make my name dwell there.’ 10 They are your servants and your people, whom you have redeemed by your great power and by your strong hand. 11 O Lord,let your ear be attentive to the prayer of your servant, and to the prayer of your servants who delight to fear your name, and give success to your servant today, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man.”                                                                Nehemiah 1:5-11