Dancing for Peace

As I was trying to gain focus for a Facebook prayer group I’ve started to unite people in prayer for Ferguson today, I kept thinking of dancing. Yeah, it sounded strange to me, too, so I moved on to try to think of more spiritual things. I decided I’d like to find a quote by Nelson Mandela. When I found this quote, I realized the earlier prompt regarding dancing just might have been Spirit led after all.

“It is music and dancing that makes me at peace with the world, and at peace with myself.”
— Nelson Mandela

I’ve been using the phrase a lot lately, “putting feet to our prayers.” Today, I’m saying, “Let’s put dancing feet to our prayers.” Dance alone to be at peace with yourself so you can then bring that peaceful spirit to others. Dance with someone in solidarity. Dance with someone you have not yet found a way to engage with relationally. Dance with someone as a first step to dialogue.

As for me, I’m declaring tonight at The Merge Coffeehouse a night for dancing together. If you’re in the area, come dance with me. If you don’t live nearby, create a dance party of your own. Let’s dance to set our hearts free. Let’s dance for peace.

And for a more philosophical look at the effects of Mandela’s dancing, and the power of dance in general …

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A Prayer Prompt As We Continue to Pray for Ferguson

Notes/disclaimers/ground-rules before you read this prayer prompt:

1) This kept coming to mind yesterday, but I hesitated to post because I really want it to spark personal prayer and not discussion or debate. So, please, know the purpose is NOT to have you post your responses here, but to ponder your response before the Lord today.
2) Despite yesterday’s hesitations, it continues to come to mind, so I’m posting despite the fact that I’m not really sure about it.
3) This is not meant to promote any one position over another. It is meant as a prompt for each of us to lay our own hearts bare before the Lord.

So, with all that said, here’s the prayer prompt:

If it was actually possible for the truth of what happened in the Michael Brown shooting to be revealed with absolute certainty, but the truth was contrary to what you have been prone to believe … if that were the case, how would you FEEL? I’m not asking whether you would doubt the outcome. Remember, in this hypothetical scenario, the truth has been proven without a shadow of a doubt. I’m asking how you would feel if the truth was contrary to your current presuppositions.

Would you feel glad and relieved that truth was found and justice served? Would you be disappointed that this case no longer served an agenda you promote? How might your heart be changed? Could your heart be changed? How would you feel towards the people “on the other side” of the issue? Would you desire to tag on a “yeah, but …”?

Wondering if maybe this prayer approach will let us know if our hearts are truly seeking truth and justice … or something else.

Holy Spirit, please guide us into all truth (John 16:1-15) – especially to the truth in our own hearts.

Initial Prayer Thoughts after a Walk in Ferguson

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While participating in a march in Ferguson last night, I talked with five or six different young people. I asked two quick questions: 1) What do I need to know? and 2) What do I need to do?

Here are their responses:

1) What I need to know –

“We’re living in prison.”

“We’re all in this together.”

2) What I need to do –

“Speak”

“Pray”

“You’re doin’ it.”

“Walk with us.”

My mind and heart are stirring following this event, and I will be writing more on this later. But for now, I want just give some thoughts for those who are praying with us here and in our Facebook prayer group.

As you pray, you might want to think about these things:

  • How will you help continue Christ’s mission to free the captives?
  • How will you show that we are all in this together? If you don’t believe this to be true, put that before the Lord in prayer.
  • Will you obey Proverbs 31:8-9 and “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy”? If you’re not sure how you can do this, pray for direction.
  • What can you DO? How can you walk with others in their struggles?

And for a more positive look at Ferguson, Missouri …

And for a more positive look at Ferguson, Missouri …

Amidst the chaos of recent events in Ferguson, MO, it is good to remember that this is occurring in a community filled with wonderful people. Please continue to pray that peace will be restored, justice will be served, and that we will come out of this a stronger community.

To join our Facebook prayer group, click here.

If you would like to join us in prayer for St. Louis …

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(image source)

I have started a Facebook page for those would like to join us in prayer for St. Louis, specifically regarding the recent events surrounding the death of Michael Brown. To see more details on this tragic event and the aftermath, see my earlier post or this recent news story. To join the Facebook prayer page, click here. I very much appreciate your prayers for this city that I love.

Justice AND Mercy, Truth AND Love

Justice AND Mercy, Truth AND Love

This video was a perfect backdrop to the prayer I shared earlier in regards to the issues we are facing here in North County, St. Louis in the aftermath of the death of Michael Brown. So often we want only one component of God’s plan. We separate out things that should go together – Justice AND Mercy, Truth AND Love. We also separate ourselves from others based on which end of the spectrum we want to align ourselves with, but the ultimate answer lies in alignment with the fullness of God’s commands. Micah 6:8 follows the instructions to “do justice and love mercy” with “walk humbly with your God.” It is difficult for us to find the balance between extremes. That is why we must humbly acknowledge that God’s ways are better than our ways and seek His guidance in these times. The two sides will only come together when both acknowledge the need for both justice and mercy, both truth and love.

Praying for My City

I live in North County St. Louis, less than six miles from the rioting and looting that has resulted from the shooting of Michael Brown by a police officer. My heart has been so grieved as I’ve watched these events unfolding – from the sadness of the shooting itself to the chaos that has surrounded us tonight. I knew I would not be sleeping anyway, so I decided to spend the time in prayer for my city and asked Facebook friends to join me. To help promote even more prayer for this situation, I’m sharing one of my posts here:

Given that the Church is called to continue the ministry of Christ, I offer this prayer based on Luke 4:18-19 …

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me” – Lord, help us to recognize that You are with us. Your Spirit enables Your people to have wisdom and power. Help us to be sensitive to the leading of Your Spirit, act and speak with wisdom, and be confident in Your power to handle this situation.

“Because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor.” – Help us to remember that the ultimate solution to all societal ills is to lead people to You. I pray that we will be living examples of the power of the gospel to transform lives. May people see hope in this message. I pray we live in a manner worthy of this calling.

“He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives” – Dear God, I pray that people would be freed of the chains that bind them to the sins that lie behind the chaos we see. Hatred, bigotry, judgmentalism, pride, greed, envy, lust for power and possessions – free us from these and all other things that are in opposition to Your truth.

“And recovery of sight to the blind” – In times like these, Lord, it is so easy to put blinders on as to the thoughts, opinions, needs, and feelings of others. In our desire to state our case or make our point, we turn a blind eye to anything that does not fit into our agendas. Help us, Lord, to see clearly. Help us to open our eyes to the needs of those around us and to look at others through Your eyes.

“To set free those who are oppressed” – Help us to remember that it is our mission to speak for the oppressed. Let us not pretend that oppression does not exist. Let us see it for the evil that it is and work towards justice.

“To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.” – Help us to have hope in You, Lord.