Below are the covenant group questions for week three - "Our Father":
Read Matthew 6:9 and Ephesians 3:14-19
How do you understand the opening phrase of “Our Father?” What does making the first word of prayer “our” mean for the way we are to understand the prayer?
What are some ways earthly fathers fall short of what being a father is supposed to be about? Some who’ve had less than a wonderful experience of their earthly father struggle with addressing God as Father with trust and warmth. What would you say to a person who was vulnerable enough to share this problem with you?
How might our prayers of intercession change if we kept the focus on “our” instead of “me and mine?”
In all of the prayers of Jesus he uses the familiar “abba” when addressing the Father in prayer. How does this practice of feel close enough to God to call him “Daddy” affect our prayer? How does it guard against bad feelings about our heavenly Father?
Note how in his Ephesians prayer, Paul lists petitions to the Father, Christ, and the Holy Spirit. What does he ascribe to each? Why might we be wise to bring our prayers to the fullness of the Trinity?
What does Paul mean by praying that the Ephesians “be filled with all the fullness of God.”
The Lord’s Prayer has five themes:
Below you will find the Covenant Group questions for the week of September 8-14.
Well, many of you have heard that my heart has been giving me trouble. I thought I would bring any readers of our church blog up to date.
A few weeks ago I had some general symptoms that were easily recognizable of heart issues. Not a heart attack, but warning signs to be sure. The first EKG was not done right and a week later when I did the remake, my regular doctor said it looked pretty troubling and he scheduled me to do a stress test with a cardiologist. This too produced results which seemed to indicate my heart wasn't doing well. So this Tuesday I went to Providence Hospital where a cardiogram was done. This is a procedure where a catheter is inserted into the heart to release a dye which shows up on a live action X-Ray machine to see what is going on. When I awoke I was told that all three of the major arteries which supply blood to the heart are blocked. Five to six blockages ranging from 70 to 100%. Not so good. The only real recourse is by pass surgery. Too much damage for angioplasty (a simpler procedure where a stint is inserted into the artery to expand the opening). By-pass surgery will mean splitting open my breastbone, rerouting my lung and heart functions to a waiting machine for a few hours, taking out the blocked artery pieces, and substituting vein tissue taken from one of my legs. After the heart is repaired with good "plumbing" they will restart my heart and lungs and sew me back up. The whole operation usually takes about 6 hours. Amazing isn't it!
I am so grateful for all the people who have been praying that we be guided to a good decision. The last two days Helen and I have been learning more about our options and what all is entailed. Eventually we settled on two good possible directions. In our former home of Berkeley, California, Alta Bates Hospital has one of the best cardio surgery departments and also has on staff several of the top 50 heart surgeons in America. I have family and friends there, so some of my recuperation could begin surrounded by people who care. They could schedule me for surgery next week. The second option is to do the operation up here. But this means waiting a few weeks till the one surgeon my insurance will accept returns from moose hunting (how Alaska is that!). While there is some small medical reason (by numbers and statistics) to go down to California, today I found real peace that I was supposed to stay here. Alaska is my home and we have good people here, both in hospital care and in prayer care. I have chosen to stay in Alaska.
What does this all mean? Well after recovery I should be feeling much better than I have in a few years. Some of the "slow down" in my physical life which I had thought was just old age was the decreased function of my heart. The new arteries should mean more energy and stamina. My surgery is scheduled for October 3. Until then I will reduce my work load at church, take my new medications, and keep myself as relaxed as possible. I will be in at Alaska Regional for maybe a week, then recuperate at home and eventually start rehabilitation. Sometime in November I hope to be fully engaged again in my work and ministry at First Covenant.
So many have already expressed prayers and well wishes and Helen and I are so thankful. It has also been a blessing to have my daughter Leana here with us during this unexpected crisis. If you have questions about anything regarding our church, please feel free to contact Associate Pastor Phil Cannon, or our Chair; Stan Summers. Any questions personal can be directed to me or if you want a quicker answer perhaps contact Helen. Between now and my surgery I plan on attending church services on Sunday mornings.
My faith in God is strong and secure. Although I expect a full recovery, I am mindful of death and have no fear. God is with me, with my family and with my church. To Him be all glory and honor now and forever.
Dear ECCAK family,
May 1st has been a day set aside for a day of prayer and fasting in the Evangelical Covenant Churches of Alaska.
One year ago the General Council put forth a resolution that was affirmed at the annual meeting. The purpose of the resolution was to establish an annual day of prayer and fasting for two reasons: to pray for deliverance from the peril of suicide in our communities and for healing from the pain of those we have lost already. In addition, the resolution also calls us to put to death those things that belong to our earthly nature. Below are two important sections from the resolution.
We in the Evangelical Covenant Church of Alaska further RESOLVE to come into the bond of unity and fervently commit to a day of fasting and prayer annually for our children and our families that we may be delivered from the peril of suicide in our communities and be healed from the pain that we endure from those whom we have lost already.
We further RESOLVE to put to death whatever belongs to our earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. We RESOLVE to rid ourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from our lips. (Col 3:5 & 8)
It is my express desire and invitation to call for your wholehearted participation. Suicide has been described as an epidemic in this state, we have heard increased dialogue about it recently, and millions of dollars have been spent to address this issue. We are aware of one too many stories of loss – there is hardly a person who has not been touched by it in some way. But we are ambassadors of the good news of the Savior who has conquered the grave, of a living hope in Christ Jesus. My hope is that the prayers lifted up will spur us on in love and good deeds to shine the light of Christ in the face of the darkness of death, not just on May 1, but every day.
Please communicate this to your congregation or ministry. Included is the original resolution along with a flier that you can post in your church or wherever you may deem fitting to help get the word out.
Because of Christ,
We hope we'll have many contributors from our congregation. I imagine we will have regular and occasional contributors. If you'd like to contribute a poem, a photo, a devotion or anything that you believe enhances our life together, please contact Pastor Criss to learn about posting.