A (Mercifully) Short History of Lent

From The Good of Giving Up, by Aaron Damiani, 2017, Moody Publishers
Where did Lent come from? How did it become recognized as the forty-day period of prayer, fasting, and generosity leading up to Easter? And when we say, “Lent began as a practice of the ancient church,” what does that even mean? Read more…

Notes for 2/24/2021 Bible Study

Below are there documents referenced in this Bible Study

The outline that we worked from for 2/24/21.

Parable Presentation Notes

A print out of the Powerpoint (Keynote) presentation concerning the interpretation of parables.

Parable Summary (DJG)

This is an academic paper I wrote some years ago as a synopsis of the article on parables in the Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels. It’s a bit technical in the first paragraphs, but the latter part offers some helpful information.

Notes for 6/24/2020 Bible Study

Letter to the Ephesians
Grace Chapel Bible Study
We Are the Body of Christ
June 24, 2020
Ephesians 1:22-23

Ephesians 1:22 and 23:

And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.

Paul has just said he prays for his readers that the eyes of their hearts would be enlightened, in order that they might come to comprehend the hope to which he has called them, the riches of God’s glorious inheritance in the Saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.

This power is the same power that raised Jesus from the dead, and we see it not only raised Jesus but exalted him, took him all the way to the right hand of the Father.

The same power that raised Jesus is for us, and now Christ is exalted. Vs. 21 says Jesus has been exalted:*

…far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.

We, you and me, that is to say the church, are central to God’s program in the world. vs. 23a (The Message):
The church, you see, is not peripheral to the world; the world is peripheral to the church. The church, the body of Christ, matters to God and should matter to us.

What becomes clear in vs. 23 is this:

The church is Christ’s complement. (With an “e.”)
Complement: Something that fills up, completes, or makes perfect.* John Calvin:

This is the highest honor of the church, that, until he is united to us, the Son of God reckons himself in some measure imperfect. What consolation it is for us to learn that, not until we are in his presence, does he possess all his parts, or does he wish to be regarded as complete.

William Hendriksen:

As to his divine essence Christ is in no sense whatever dependent on or capable of being completed by the church. But as bridegroom he is incomplete without the bride; as the vine he cannot be thought of without the branches; as shepherd he is not seen without his sheep; and so also as head he finds his full expression in his body, the church.

Colossians 1:24:

Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church.

Here he notes that he church, in essence, completes Christ’s suffering.

vs. 23b (The Message):

The church is Christ’s body, in which he speaks and acts, by which he fills everything with his presence.

St. Teresa of Avila (1515-1582):

Christ has no body now but yours.

No hands, no feet on earth but yours.

Yours are the eyes through which he looks compassion on this world.

Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good.

Yours are the hands through which he blesses all the world.

Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, yours are the eyes, you are his body. Christ has no body now on earth but yours.

Kenneth Wuest (in his exposition of Ephesians):

The relation between Christ and the Church, therefore, is not an external relation, or one simply of Superior and inferior, sovereign and subject, but one of life and incorporation. The Church is not merely and institution ruled by Him as President, a Kingdom in which He is the Supreme Authority, or a vast company of men in moral sympathy with Him, but a Society which is in vital connection with Him, having the source of its life in Him, sustained and directed by His power, the instrument also by which He works.

The Church is central to God’s plan, and we become the “crew” that makes the ship sail.
Pat Damiani:
• The church matters to God because it is made up of people that matter to God.
• The church matters to God because it is the earthly manifestation of His presence.
• The church matters to God because it is a crucial part of His plan for this world.
• The church matters to God because it is His place for us to grow and mature in our faith.
• The church matters to God because He has a passion for His church.

The church matters to God, and should matter to me as well!


The Prayer We Need Right Now

Here are the notes from the 6/14/20 sermon, “The Prayer We Need Right Now.”

The Prayer We Need Right Now (Notes)

Matthew 6:5-13

Verses 9-13

“This, then, is how you should pray:

“‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us today our daily bread.

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

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”

Would you personally like to experience life change, both spiritually and physically?

Five key dimensions of learning to pray:

1. Worship and ADORATION of God. Vs 9-10

“This, then, is how you should pray:

“‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.’”

True prayer starts with worshipping God.

Hebrews 12:28

Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe…

Proper adoration and worship causes our attitudes to change.

Revelation 15:4 

Who will not fear you, Lord,

    and bring glory to your name?

For you alone are holy.

All nations will come

    and worship before you,

for your righteous acts have been revealed.”

Psalm 96:9 

Worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness; tremble before him, all the earth.

Someone wrote this:

When we rely upon organization, we get what organization can do; 

When we rely upon education, we get what education can do; 

When we rely upon eloquence, we get what eloquence can do, and so on. 

When we rely upon prayer, we get what God can do. 

2. A personal SUBMISSION. V 10

…your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

Luke 18:14b 

all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.

Isaiah 66:2b

“These are the ones I look on with favor:

    those who are humble and contrite in spirit,

    and who tremble at my word.”

Come before the Lord with worship and adoration, with humility and submission.

3. Honest REQUESTS in faith. V11

Give us today our daily bread.

Food, shelter, clothing, health and healing, wisdom, safety, understanding, praying God’s Word.

Mark 11:24

Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

John 14:13-14

And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.

Philippians 4:6

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

Come before God in worship and adoration, a personal humility and submission, and with honest requests.

What is your daily bread? Ask God to supply whatever it is you need.

4. Giving and seeking FORGIVENESS. V12

And forgive us our debts,

    as we also have forgiven our debtors.

This means forgiving others who have wronged we as you seek personal forgiveness of sin.

As we’re praying to God, we ask Him to search our hearts, and to reveal sin in our hearts.

Psalm 139:23-24

Search me, God, and know my heart;

    test me and know my anxious thoughts.

See if there is any offensive way in me,

    and lead me in the way everlasting.

1 John 1:9 

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

Psalm 66:18-20 

If I had cherished sin in my heart,

    the Lord would not have listened;

but God has surely listened

    and has heard my prayer.

Praise be to God,

    who has not rejected my prayer

    or withheld his love from me!

Prayer is a time for self-evaluation, an examination that uncovers the true condition of our hearts.

5. PROTECTION from ALL enemies. V 13a

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.

Ephesians 6:1

“Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” 

Ephesians 6:12 

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

Ephesians 6:18 

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. 



James 5:16

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.

The prayer we need right now is powerful and effective.

The prayer we need right now is prayer in the manner Jesus teachers us to pray, characterized by these five dimensions:

  • Grounded in worship
  • Prayed in Submission
  • Consisting of honest Requests—asking for what you need
  • Accompanied by asking for and extending Forgiveness
  • Seeking God’s Protection from the evil one.

The prayer we need right now is that prayer that cries out to God in the day of trouble…

Psalm 86:7 In the day of my trouble I will call to you, for you will answer me.

The prayer we need right now is bold and confident.

Hebrews 4:16 

Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. 

The prayer we need right now consists of these five dimensions:

Worship, Submission, Requests, Forgiveness, Protection …

1 John 5:14 

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 

Response to this message:

  1. To prioritize prayer. Look at your schedule, your use of your time, and make a place, carve out some time to spend talking to your heavenly Father.
  1. Along with prioritizing, practice prayer; once you’ve created the space, then make sure that you occupy that space with intentional practice…pull out your bible, follow along with Jesus in Matthew 6:5-13, and use that as a template. 

Awake, O Sleeper!

Looking forward to getting up early tomorrow morning for Sunrise Service. The sermon for that service will be entitled, “Wake Up Call,” and will, in addition to Mark’s resurrection narrative, include Ephesians 5:14. As a kind of addendum, I thought I’d share this video by The Brothers Bright. The lyrics are below.

“Oh Abraham would raise his hands;
and mourn this very day;
for his children left the promised land;
in search of their own way.
They kick and scream like wayward sons;
And always wanting to sleep;
and dream away these evil days;
in hopes that God can’t see.
There are chains upon your children Lord;
Chains upon your children.
There are chains upon your children;
We’re in chains.
Do you hear the lion roar?
(Awake O Sleeper)
Stand with me we’ll fight the war.
(Awake O Sleeper)
Your suffering will come again;
and never fall away.
For we trade our many comforts;
Like the one who bled for grace.
There will come a day my God will come;
and put me in my place.
My God I pray;
You’ll call my name;
instead of turn away.
There are chains upon your children Lord;
Chains upon your children.
There are chains upon your children;
We’re in chains.
Do you hear the lion roar?
(Awake O Sleeper)
Stand with me we’ll fight the war.
(Awake O Sleeper)
Let no man bring me harm;
I bear the marks of Jesus.
Let no man bring me harm;
I bear the marks of the Lord.
I said, Let no man bring me harm;
I bear the marks of Jesus.
Let no man bring me harm;
‘Cause I bear the marks of God.
Do you hear the lion roar?
(Awake O Sleeper)
Stand with me we’ll fight the war.
(Awake O Sleeper)
I said, Do you hear the lion roar?
(Awake O Sleeper)
Come on and stand with me we’ll fight the war.
(Awake O Sleeper)
(Let no man bring me harm;
I bear the marks of Jesus;
Let no man bring me harm;
I bear the marks of the Lord.)” 



Ok, for the benefit of those of you who wanted the quote, which I don’t have a source for, but I used as the climax of last Sunday’s sermon, “#hosanna,” here’s the material:

Somebody put it like this:

He is Abel’s sacrifice

Noah’s rainbow

Abraham’s ram

Isaac’s wealth

Jacob’s  Scepter

Moses’ rod that divided the Red Sea in two and

made it a super highway for the children of Israel

Joshua’s Sun, and the Moon that stood still

Elijah’s mantle

Elisha’s staff

Samuel’s horn of oil

David’s sling shot

And Malachi’s Son of Righteousness;

He’s Peter’s shadow that healed the sick

Stephen’s signs and wonders

Paul’s apron and handkerchief;

He is the father of the orphan

A husband to the widow

A bright morning star for the traveler by night

The Lily of the Valley

The Rose of Sharon

The Rock of Ages

The express image of God’s person

The King of glory

A rock in a weary land, 

And the beauty of ten thousand;

He is the Cup that runneth over

The rod and staff that comforts me

The Lion of the tribe of Judah

That breaks every chain and sets man free

The Government of our lives is upon His shoulders;

In mathematics He multiplied five loaves of bread

To feed five thousand peoples

In Zoology He is the Lamb slain for our Salvation

In Botany He is the flower that fades not

In Biology He is the life everlasting

In History He is the Alpha and the Omega

In Physics He is the One that disproved the law of gravity by ascending on high

In Chemistry, he changes ordinary water into sweet wine;

To the artist He is the altogether lovely,

To the architect, He is the Chief Cornerstone

To the baker, He is the bread of life

To the banker He is the hidden treasure

Oh to the Carpenter He is the door

To the farmer He is the sower and the Lord of the Harvest

To the horticulturist, he is the true Vine

To the Philosopher, He is the wisdom of God

To the Philanthropist, He is the unspeakable gift

To the Journalist, He is the great news of glad tidings

To the student, He is the Incarnate One

To the servant, He is the Good Master

To the statesman, He is the Desire of all Nations

To the sinner, He is the Lamb of God

That takes away the sins of the world

To the weary,  He is the Giver of Rest

To the theologian He is the Author and the Finisher of our faith

But who is this man?

He came to die for our sins

The just for the unjust

That He might bring us to the Father

Believe in Him and you will be saved

He is Jesus of Nazareth

A man approved by God with Signs and wonders

And miracles which God did by Him through Him

His name is J E S U S!  JESUS!!!

The name that deposes sin

Disperses demons

Dispels darkness

Depreciates fear

Disintegrates impossibilities

Dissolves difficulties

And dislocates mountains

He’s more than the latest thing; he’s the ancient of days.

he’s the Lord of all.


Voice on the Mount of Transfiguration: this is my beloved son; hear him!

Mary, at Cana: Whatever he tells you, do it!

Green Crayon Christians


In the message, “Eating Words,” I’ve suggested that we need to pursue a holistic relationship with the Word of God, the Bible, that would move us beyond recreational and occasional use of the scriptures to filling our “spiritual stomachs” with the content of the Word to build and shape our lives. We’ve coined the descriptor, “Green Crayon Christian,” in reference to my friend Darryl Woolfolk’s green crayon he uses to highlight questions that arise as he reads the Bible.

The New Testament: Myth or Reality?

During this recent season, as we’ve studied John’s gospel and celebrated the gospel accounts of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, I’m reminded that there are questions that arise on the part of many as to whether this amazing story contained in the gospels is true or merely mythological. As people of faith, we believe that the Bible relays a reliable witness to events that really happened, and this is the basis for our faith in our risen Lord.
The link below is to a great piece about noted author and bible translator J.B. Phillips, and his take on the subject. I think you’ll enjoy it.

Prayer: Armed With Courage

Man In Prayer Christian Stock Photo

I came across this piece by A.W. Tozer a while back, and wanted to share it.


But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.—James 1:6

When entering the prayer chamber, we must come filled with faith and armed with courage. Nowhere else in the whole field of religious thought and activity is courage so necessary as in prayer. The successful prayer must be one without condition. We must believe that God is love and that, being love, He cannot harm us but must ever do us good. Then we must throw ourselves before Him and pray with boldness for whatever we know our good and His glory require, and the cost is no object! Whatever He in His love and wisdom would assess against us, we will accept with delight because it pleases Him. Prayers like that cannot go unanswered. The character and reputation of God guarantee their fulfillment.

We should always keep in mind the infinite loving kindness of God. No one need fear to put his life in His hands. His yoke is easy; His burden is light.

“Increase my faith; increase my courage. Amen.”

Excerpted from “We Travel an Appointed Way,” p. 48, A.W. Tozer

The Sound of Silence

imagesOk, this one is from 2001, and I’m sharing some older pieces I have written in anticipation of fully embracing my newfound duty as blogging pastor. This one actually brings back fond memories, and I’m sure that Mendocino has cell service now, as does the entire planet, or so it seems. I checked, and they still don’t have a Starbucks, but maybe that’s a good thing, at least for local businesses. In light of this week’s messages on prayer, I hope you find this article about contemplative silence helpful:

This week Sharlyn and I were blessed to take a few days off, and to journey to a part of California with which I have heretofore remained relatively unfamiliar. After spending an evening in San Francisco, we made our way 68 miles up Highway 1 to the small coastal town of Bodega Bay. This town, which boasts a population of 950, is best known (if known at all!) as the location of the Alfred Hitchcock film, “The Birds.”  We enjoyed our one-night stay in this laid-back little town, but the next morning journeyed north to an even more remote and interesting location, the quaint Victorian seaside village of Mendocino, which also is home to just under 1,000 inhabitants. We spent two nights in a bed and breakfast inn which was built in the 1880’s. No phone, no television, no radio. No cell phone service. I looked forward to the solitude, the beautiful ocean vistas, the quiet nights, the time alone with my wife.

We had a wonderful time. I must confess, however, that we found ourselves in search of things like movie theaters, and there were none. The nearest Starbucks was 3 hours away! We journeyed a few miles north to Ft. Bragg, in search of more “signs of life,” and a cell phone signal. We found the cell phone signal, a nice market, a moderate-sized town, but that’s about it.

What I discovered about myself is that, although I crave quiet, solitude, and simpler surroundings, I experience “withdrawal” when I have to exit the daily grind, the phones, the freeways, the noise, the crowds. It really takes me some time to become accustomed to a quieter, simpler lifestyle.

I realize, however, that I need more of this solitude, not only for my mental and physical health, but for the health of my soul. But I’m truly of an urban mindset, and as such I find myself sometimes uncomfortable with the sound of silence.

Frankly, I feel challenged to more diligently seek quiet space in my life, to not allow myself to remain addicted to the noise, the cacophony of this culture, the static of a world that not only never sleeps but never slows, never listens. I’m challenged to seek to cultivate in my life certain spiritual disciplines, such as silence, solitude, meditation and contemplative prayer. I’m reminded that even within the realm of  Christian endeavor, we can find ourselves inundated with excessive noise and artificial stimulation. I want to become comfortable with the sound of silence.

Richard Foster, in Celebration of Discipline, writes:

In contemporary society our Adversary majors in three things:  noise, hurry, and crowds.  If he can keep us engaged in “muchness” and “manyness,” he will rest satisfied.  Psychiatrist Carl Jung once remarked, “Hurry is not of the Devil; it is the Devil.” If we hope to move beyond the superficialities of our culture, including our religious culture, we must be willing to go down into the recreating silences, into the inner world of contemplation.  In their writings, all the masters of meditation beckon us to be pioneers in this frontier of the Spirit.  Though it may sound strange to modern ears, we should without shame enroll as apprentices in the school of contemplative prayer.

Consider this quote from the venerable Christian classic, Thomas A Kempis’ Imitation of Christ, written in the 15th century, which has for centuries called believers to a deeper and more intimate walk with Christ:

Anyone, then, who aims to live the inner and spiritual life

must go apart, with Jesus, from the crowd.

My brief vacation this week reminded me of how essential it is for us to routinely seek quietness of the soul amidst the hustle and bustle of our everyday lives. I confess that it’s hard for me to sit still for too long. I long for a better grasp of the truth articulated by the Psalmist:

Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.

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