Friday, November 12, 2010

A Prayer for Children

It's been an awful week here in Tulsa. Sick things in the news. Children killed and abused in monstrous ways. Trust destroyed. Hearts broken. In our staff prayer meeting yesterday, we prayed and cried out to the Lord on behalf of these precious children and their families... and our own children. It's a scary world out there sometimes. Sin-sick. Broken.
Sometimes all we can do is cry and somehow hang on to hope that God will make it all right someday. And do our part in the meantime to make this a more just and loving world. Child abuse is not OK. Child sex trafficking must be stopped. Lord, have mercy.
Here's a song I wrote for Josh years ago that sums up how I'm feeling about all this today:

Oh My Child
Music & Lyrics: Matt Nightingale
from the album "Still Standing"
For Joshua Matthew, Jacob Connor, Emily Grace and Zachary Joseph.

(Download the album for free or whatever you want to pay over at NoiseTrade. Widget to the right. ----->)

Oh my child, I am trying to raise you well
Oh my child, so far so good, but who can tell
Cuz the world is a violent, empty place
They don’t care about you and your precious face
Not really, not really

Oh my child, be strong and courageous
All around you, heaven knows, there’s a battle that rages
And the angels are fighting for your soul
And your daddy is praying that you will know
The Father, the Father

Big blue eyes and busy hands
You’ll grow up as time demands
How many days, how great the cost
Till I look in your eyes and see innocence lost

Oh my child, I am only human too
And I know any minute now I am going to fail you
And I hope you’ll remember how I love you
And that I was an innocent child like you
Long ago, not long ago

Big blue eyes and busy hands
You’ll grow up as time demands
How many days, how great the cost
Till I look in your eyes and see innocence lost

Oh my child, how I long for what’s to come
All the violent, empty things will finally come undone
And from Eden to Golgotha to Kingdom Come
All Creation is groaning, “Thy will be done”
Oh rest in that, Oh rest in Him

Oh Joshua, rest in Him
Oh Jacob, rest in Him
Oh Emily, rest in Him
Oh Zachary, rest in Him

Oh Father, Thy will be done

© 1998 A Little Nightingale Music (ASCAP)
Lyrics reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Veterans Day Prayer

Found this great prayer over on Facebook via my friend Matt Anderson, worship pastor at Thornapple Covenant Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan. It was written by the Rev. Dr. Jennifer Phillips, Rector at St. Augustine's Episcopal Church at the University of Rhode Island.

I'm grateful today for men like my dad, Chuck Nightingale, my father-in-law, Lou Tondino, and so many others who have served our country.

God of all nations, you are our Strength and Shield. We give you thanks today for the devotion and courage of all those who have offered military service for this country:

For those who have fought for freedom;
For those who have laid down their lives for others;
For those who have borne suffering of mind oir of body;
For those who have brought their best gifts to times of need.

God, in your mercy and love, we thank you for their lives.

On our behalf, oh God, many have entered into danger, endured separation from those they love, labored long hours and born hardship in war and in peacetime.

God, in your mercy and love, we thank you for their lives.

We ask today that you would lift up by your Spirit those who are now at war; encourage and heal those in hospitals or mending their wounds at home; guard those in any need or trouble; hold safely in your hands all military families and bring the returning troops to joyful reunion and tranquil life at home.

Give to us, your people, grateful hearts and a united will to honor these men and women and hold them always in our love and our prayers until your world is perfected in peace and all wars cease.

Through Jesus Christ, our Savior,


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Another Morning After

I’m reminded today, as I was on the morning after the election in 2008, that Jesus is Lord, that nothing happens outside the will of God, and that our hope and future are NOT found in elected officials or political parties. Today I am called to live as I was called to live yesterday: as a faithful follower of Jesus Christ, a pilgrim in a foreign land, a citizen of heaven living for a time in the United States of America. I pray for our nation, our state, our city, and those who have been elected to govern us. And I continue to place all my faith and hope in Jesus, the Author and Perfector of our faith (Hebrews 12:2).

Worship Leaders & Planners... Need Your Help!

I'm putting together a workshop for my denomination's annual pastor's conference in February. Here's the official description, from the Midwinter 2011 website:

204 | Better Together: Worship Planning in Our Diverse Denomination

Our vibrant denomination includes churches of nearly all ages, sizes, ethnicities, and approaches to planning and leading worship. This interactive workshop will focus on several "case study" churches while inviting participants to share experiences from their own unique perspectives in an attempt to foster learning, connection, communication, and resourcing within our Covenant worship community.

My vision is to create video profiles of 4-5 churches within the Covenant. We're talking to several different "types" of churches in an attempt to capture many differing approaches to worship planning... from a megachurch with a large worship staff to a small church that utilizes laypeople extensively. We'll be looking at other types of diversity too, engaging worship planners from ethnic and multi-ethnic churches, liturgical and decidedly non-liturgical churches. These videos will be shown, and a representative from that ministry will speak and answer questions about their approach. Participants will interact with the church leader and in small groups. I will simply act as facilitator... encouraging interaction and keeping things on track.

My question for you today: Worship leaders, pastors, planners... What would YOU ask? We're preparing to produce these videos, and I need to come up with interview questions for these teams to answer.

My sense is to simply ask them to describe and explain their process, from start to finish. But what specifically would YOU ask? What questions and problems are YOU experiencing in your worship planning?
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