Monday, February 8, 2016

Daily Devotion - Monday, February 8, 2016


I woke up this morning smiling.  It's true.  I was actually smiling when I woke up.  I have a lot to smile about, to be honest.  Yesterday the Denver Broncos pulled off an upset and beat the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50.  I've been a Broncos fan for forty years so it was pretty sweet to cheer them to victory, and to wake up today knowing that they'd won it all.  

But that's not the most important reason I am smiling, not by a long shot.  Today is my oldest son Jay's twenty-first birthday.  It's hard to believe that twenty-one years ago, Merideth and I welcomed Jay into the world and into our lives.  We were not much older then than Jay is now, which is a serious commentary on the crazy fast passage of time.  

I'm proud of my son and all of his accomplishments.  I love that he is also a young man of faith--strong faith that has been tested and tried.  I have always believed that he will do great things for the kingdom of God, and I can't wait to cheer him on as he discovers God's purpose and will for his life.  

Today I am reminded of the words of the psalmist in Psalm 127: 

Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one's youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.
The last part of that verse is interesting, isn't it?  "He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate."  This ancient turn of phrase gives the impression that the man in question is sitting down with people who don't have his best interests at heart, to say the least.  He needs to project an air of strength and capability--to ensure that his enemies know he is not a man to be trifled with, or taken advantage of.

The man's strength, his character and his integrity are on display in his children. They are living, breathing symbols of the legacy he's created--a legacy that will outlive him, and be carried on to future generations.

He may have made mistakes in his life.  He may have stumbled along the way, maybe even fallen down from time to time, but in the end he will not be put to shame because whatever good, true and faithful things he's been able to pass down to his children will live on within them.

I've not always been the best father.  I've said and done really dumb things in front of my sons.  I've made mistakes, and I've had to ask their forgiveness more than once.  I know that there are probably some things I've passed down to them that will not serve them all that well.

But my hope and my prayer is that the one thing they will always remember, always carry with them is the knowledge that they are loved by their heavenly Father infinitely more than their earthly father could ever love them.

When I see my twenty-one year old son becoming a man right before my eyes, and I am filled with intense pride at who he is and will be--I am brought to my knees in humility.  I don't deserve such good boys, but God in his grace and mercy has given me a quiver full of them.  I am blessed.

If you are a parent, parent-figure or grand-parent may you be encouraged and strengthened in your ministry to your children and grandchildren. May you feel the love and grace of your heavenly Father today, and know that you are loved beyond measure.  And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always.  Amen.  

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Avoiding Election Infection

With the election officially underway now that the first caucus happened and the first primary is about to happen--I feel like it's completely appropriate for me to conduct my own poll.  Everyone's been talking about polls, examining polls, taking polls, interpreting polls, denying polls (if they're not winning in them), affirming polls (if they are), so why not get in on the act?

Here's my poll questions for today, and we'll do this all by show of hands.  First question:  How many of you are enjoying this election season?  You are just digging this whole thing.  You are watching it like a train wreck about to happen. Raise your hand.  

Okay second question: How many of you are ready for this to be over?  You've already handed in the towel, waved the white flag, given up. Raise your hand.

Here's a pretty personal question, and you don't have to answer this specifically, but how many of you have already made up your mind who you would vote for? Don't blurt out any candidates names.  Just raise your hand. 

Okay, last question.  How many of you think that politics should come up in church?  That preachers should talk about politics from the pulpit?  Many of you knew what the topic was going to be today so you came even though you told yourself, "he shouldn't be talking about that," but you came anyway.  Maybe you came to see if I would crash and burn.  I get that.  But I hope to avoid any crashing and burning.  

Instead, what I want to do is to issue you all a challenge.  To all those who are here today, and all those who are listening online, I want to issue you a serious challenge that I don't think most of us Christians are going to be able to pull off.  I am going to challenge you between now and November 8th to put your faith ahead of your politics.  I want you to put your faith filter up front and your political filter a little farther back.  

This is a challenge to be a Christ follower first and a Republican second.  To be a Christ-follower first and a Democrat second. To be a Christ-follower first and Libertarian second.  

You might find this really hard to do between now and then, but I want to tell you why I believe you can do it.  Because there are things that can happen in your life that would make your political persuasion completely irrelevant.  I have been with people during some of the worst times of their lives--and not a single one of them asked me in their moment of need, "Leon, could you just sit here and read to me portions of the Constitution?  Could you recite the preamble to the Declaration of the Independence over me while I am lying here sick in the hospital?  

There are more important things in your life--you know this.  There are things that could happen to you right now that would make you forget there was an election going on, you know what I mean, right?

So keeping that in mind, you also know that your faith is more important as well.  Which is why I am challenging you to put your faith before your politics between now and November 8.  This doesn't mean that you shouldn't have an opinion--although some of us have an opinion about absolutely everything, which is just annoying to everyone else.  I'm told.  

I'm not suggesting that you not yell at the TV, the radio, rant at parties, tear up the newspaper, embarrass yourself at parties with your opinions--you go right ahead and do all of those things if you feel that you need to...  ahem.  

I'm also not suggesting that you vote for any particular candidate.  There are churches in America who hand out voters guides so that their church members will know who to vote for, who the church leadership or denomination sanctions. I'm not doing that by a long shot.  

What I'm challenging you to do is put your faith ahead of your politics.  

Some of you might be thinking right now, "Well, my faith and politics are all up on one another, my brother!"  You might say, the reason I'm a Republican is because I am a Christian.  The reason I am a Democrat is because I'm a Christian.  

If you're a Republican you might be arguing right now saying, "Well God is always right... and Jesus was always right.. so if Jesus and God are right and Republicans are considered on the right then if you're a Republican you're in the right and everything goes right and we don't need to talk about this anymore. Right?  

And if you're a Democrat you are probably thinking, "Come on!  Jesus was a health-care dispensing machine!  He gave healthcare to everyone for free, he never turned anyone away!  He even gave away food on at least two occasions.  Come on! 

And if you're a Libertarian, all you need to do is to quote the verses that say things like, "You will know the truth and the truth shall make you...?  What?  Free!  Absolutely!  And another verse says "where the Spirit of the Lord is there is...?"  What?  Freedom!  So God is clearly leaning toward Libertarians!  

Here's the thing.  When it comes to putting your faith before your politics, you can't really say things like, "The Bible is my first authority and politics are second."  You can't do that because it doesn't work.  ANYONE can make ANY kind of claim using the bible to support where they stand politically.  

But there is something in the Bible that gives us a clue as to how we can make this a reality--the life of Jesus.  The way that Jesus lived his life is an example of how we should approach this entire election season.  Jesus was often political, in a weird, Jedi kind of way.  But Jesus didn't come to take sides in a political debate.  He came to take over.  Let me say that again.  Jesus didn't come to take sides, he came to take over.  

Let's read a passage of Scripture from the Gospel of Mark.  Chapter 12:13-17

13 Later they sent some of the Pharisees and Herodians to Jesus to catch him in his words. 14 They came to him and said, “Teacher, we know that you are a man of integrity. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are; but you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. Is it right to pay the imperial tax[b] to Caesar or not? 15 Should we pay or shouldn’t we?”

But Jesus knew their hypocrisy. “Why are you trying to trap me?” he asked. “Bring me a denarius and let me look at it.” 16 They brought the coin, and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?”

“Caesar’s,” they replied.

17 Then Jesus said to them, “Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.”


And they were amazed at him.

What was happening here?  Well, these guys were trying to trap Jesus.  At the time of Christ there was a serious debate among Jewish religious leaders about whether it was a sin to pay tribute to Caesar, which could be seen as a form of idolatry.  Some people said you should pay it, but there was a growing number of people who said you shouldn't, mostly for economic reasons, but definitely masked in religious overtones.  

If Jesus answers them, "No!" then they were going to turn him into the Roman authorities and accuse him of sedition.  If he said "Yes!" they were going to try to discredit him with the people. 

So Jesus asks them for a Roman coin.  And of course one of them has one.  Which is pretty telling in and of itself.  He asks them whose portrait is on the coin, and they reply, "Caesar's."  Jesus says, "Well then, I suppose you better give Caesar his property back, but make sure that you give to God everything that belongs to God."  

Jesus amazed these guys with his wisdom and there were many people there who were impressed that he basically stated, "I could care less about all of your political stuff.  I came to bring about the kingdom of God.  I came not to take sides, but to take over."  

And what was at the center of the kingdom of God?  People.  Remember John 3:16?  "For God so loved the world..." the world is full of people, children of God, created in his image.  Jesus constantly put people first in his ministry in everything he did.  Jesus was for what was best for people.  In other words, he put his faith ahead of politics.  

Jesus talked a lot about what it looked like when the kingdom of God was here on earth. He talked about this more than he talked about everything else he talked about--more than heaven and hell, money, and yes--more than politics.  

He was asked once, "What is the Greatest Commandment?" and he replied, "Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, soul, mind and strength." Then he said, "And the second is like the first--love your neighbor as yourself."  I other words, "Love God--love people."  You show your love for God, Jesus taught every single day, by showing your love for people.  When what you care about most is what is best for people, then you are living the kingdom of God.  

Now, we can disagree on the definition of what "best" means all day long, and we do.  Some people have very clear ideas what is best for people, and some people have opposite ideas.  We can debate that, but what we can't disagree on, especially if we are going to call ourselves Christ-followers, is that what is best is what is best for people. 

Imagine what our country would look like if we all figured this out.  If every one of us--Christian or not--decided to desire and work for what is best for people.  Imagine.  What if we all said, "I am going to love my neighbor as myself.  I'm going to do to others what I would want others to do for me."  Would it honestly matter who was elected president, if all of us lived like this?  

It all hinges on that one idea--what is best is what's best for people.  Love God and love people.  

So how can you make this a reality?  How can you get through November 8th without losing your salvation? Your blood pressure spiking? How do you keep your faith ahead of your politics?  

Well I think there are four things you can do to make this a reality in your life--but you have to commit to them.  You have to embrace it. Here goes...

First, you need to acknowledge what you don't know.  When you hear something that seems so outlandish to you.  When a co-worker, a friend, a relative says something that makes you want to say to your spouse, "Honey, we may have to move, I can't even live in the same town as someone who believes that." 

Instead of freaking out, just use this a moment to learn.  You shouldn't be afraid to learn something new.  Why would you, right?  Aside from the fact that most of don't want to hear things that contradict other things that we hold to be the right things.  But we believe, at least we say that we do, that our God is a God of infinite wisdom.  When does infinite wisdom run out?  Never!  So you could dedicate yourself for the rest of your life to learning all there is to know about God and everything there is to know and never even scratch the surface.

So if you encounter something you don't know--learn about it, research it, read about, talk to people who believe it.  If you only listen to the same kinds of radio stations, television news channels or read the same kinds of publications all of the time do you really think you are going to learn anything new?  

Second, you need to ask questions.  Don't be afraid to dialogue with people who believe things that are different from the things you believe.  Instead of dismissing them, arguing with them, or yelling over them to make your point--ask them a simple question or two.  "What led you to that view?  What led you to hold that position?"  

Then let them tell you their story. Because everyone has a story behind their beliefs.  And once you know someone's story, it's hard to dislike them, demonize them or hate them.  

I remember years ago, I had a woman in my church who was so completely consumed with hunger prevention, food programs, making sure people who needed food got food... it was almost crazy how she was into this.  I finally asked her why she was so passionate and sometimes obstinate about it.  She told me that her son was a drug addict who was living in New York City.  Her little grandson was eight years old at the time and was left with the father by his mother, who was also an addict.  This lady went to NY to rescue her grandson and found him basically starving, alone in an apartment.  She told me, "I swore then that I would do everything in my power to ensure no child had to go through that, if I could help it."  

Hear people's stories, and then say, "Wow that's fascinating!" or "That's honestly kind of offensive," or "I had no idea."  

Third, admit you don't have all the answers.  This is connected to the first one about acknowledging what you don't know, except it's just a bit different.  After you've done everything you can to learn, and to listen, you need to be honest and self aware enough to admit that you don't have all the answers, and that really good people who you care deeply about might very well have different opinions than you do, and they very well could be... listen... they just might be... wait for it... right. Which means you, in all of your previously held certainty, might be... wrong.  

It's possible.  It's entirely possible. 

Which brings you to the final step in this process.  To affirm that other people have stories that are valid, and completely theirs, and they are entitled to them, and that to demonize them for their stories is not at all what Jesus would do. That candidate that you called all those names in front of your friends--do you know him or her personally?  It's not like God reaches in and pulls out all of the guidelines for being a Jesus-follower during election season.  "Well, let's just do away with that whole restriction on gossip for these few months, shall we?  Olly Olly oxen free!"  

No!  Gossip also applies to political conversations, too.  I know. It's pretty hard to hear that, isn't it?  We so desperately want to say what we're feeling about that one candidate, or all of the candidates from that one party--the one that isn't our party.  

But when you start to admit that everyone has a story that leads them to believe what they believe, and that they are entitled to their story, and that (gulp) they might actually have a point, and your point might not be the main point... that's when you find the grace and peace to focus on the most important thing of all.  

That what is best is what is best for people.  That your faith needs to be ahead of your politics.  

You can argue your point, you can say whatever it is that you feel you need to say to state your opinion--but you could lose your ability in the process to have some influence.  Because if people know you are a Christian and the way in which you present, argue or share your opinion is at all arrogant, self-serving, demeaning to others, hate-filled--the list goes on...  THEN you could completely diminish your witness as a Christian and possibly lose the chance to influence or make a difference in that person's life if they needed you to speak about your faith, or why you follow Jesus. 

Again, I'm not saying you shouldn't have an opinion, but what I am saying is that your faith should be ahead of your politics, you should be constantly showing your love of God by your love of people, to put the needs of others ahead of your own and to point them to Jesus who came not take sides, but to take over.  

Step into this challenge.  Embrace it.  Let your faith filter move in front of all the other filters in your life, including your political filter.  If you want to avoid election infection, you need to put your faith ahead of your politics.  


Friday, February 5, 2016

Daily Devotion - Friday, Feb 5, 2016


"When you cease to exist, then who will you blame?" - Bob Dylan 

There is this great story in the Gospel of John chapter 5 of Jesus healing a man who had been an invalid for a very long time.  Here's the first part of it: 
2 Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. 3 Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. 5 One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?”
Here's a bit of background on this story.  This particular pool, which was fed by a spring, was a place where people in the city of Jerusalem would come and gather water to drink.  

It was also considered sacred because it was said to have healing properties.  The water of the pool would bubble naturally because of the spring that was feeding it, but it was believed that if you had an infirmity and were the first person into the pool after the water was "troubled," you would be healed.  

The guy who Jesus encounters here is described as an "invalid," which is a bit unclear.  It's thought that he was afflicted with weakness that made it difficult for him to get up and get to the water in time.  

I love the question that Jesus asks the guy.  It seems like the most obvious question in the world:  "Do you want to get well?"  You would think that Jesus would just assume the guy would want to get well, right?  I mean the guy is lying near a pool, which allegedly had healing properties.  He's obviously ill, and he'd been there a long time.  

Here's what I think, though.  I think the stories passed down about people being healed of their illnesses by rolling themselves into the Pool of Bethesda were the stuff of urban legend.  And I think most people in Jesus' day knew that.  But, if you were disabled and desperate, and the only way to make a living was by begging, the best places to go and ask for alms were public places that lots of people would frequent.  

I could be wrong, but I see this as a story of a man who has given up hope.  Even if the stories of the pool were true, he isn't strong enough to make it happen anyway.  He's resigned himself to his lot in life, to the way things are. So when Jesus asks him if we wants to get well, the guy doesn't answer the question. Instead he starts a "woe-is-me" campaign, 
7 “Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.”
I kind of wish Jesus had said to him, "That's not what I asked you.  Let me repeat the question."  But Jesus, full of grace and love (way more than me, obviously) tells the guy, "Get up! Take up your mat and walk!"  And of course, the guy does what Jesus says and is healed.  

As I think about this story, I am reminded of my own struggles with hopelessness from time to time.  When I think about all of the things I feel hopeless about, the situations I feel I can't change, the desperation I sometimes feel when whatever is happening in my life is beyond my control--I can totally relate to the guy by the pool.  

That's when Jesus' question lands on me like a ton of bricks: "Do you want to get well?"  Most of the time, if I am being honest, I reply to that question with the same excuses, blame and misdirection as the man at the Pool of Bethesda. Because Jesus' question exposes the truth about us in the middle of our hopelessness, which is simply this:  There are times when we've simply given up on "getting well," and have settled for a less-than life. 

Which is why Jesus grace-filled and healing command gives me so much encouragement.  Jesus doesn't coddle the guy.  He doesn't sit there and commiserate with the mans's woefulness and self-pity.  Jesus lovingly and firmly tells him to get up.  

And in that moment, the man recognizes the voice speaking to him, even though he's never really heard it before with his own ears.  The voice speaking to him is the creative Word of God, the voice that spoke the universe into existence at the beginning of all things.  The voice speaking is the voice of the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the Redeemer and the Lord.  

So the man gets up, and walks.  

May you hear the voice of Jesus speaking to you today clearly, lovingly and firmly.  May you let go of your excuses, your hopeless desperation that you can't, or won't, or never will be well.  May you rise in healing and strength filled with the joy of abundant life.  And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always.  Amen.  
 

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Daily Devotion - Thursday, February 4, 2016


Over the years, I've been pretty open about my struggles with doubt as it relates to my faith. I've shared from the pulpit on numerous occasions that I have had seasons when I've wondered if God is truly "at the wheel," so to speak.  I've even wondered in my lowest moments if what I was doing (this whole Christian pastor thing) was just an exercise in futility.  

One of those times came a couple of years ago after the horrific tragedy that occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School--when a crazed gunman executed little children.  After that happened, I had a dark moment or two about what God was up to, if God was up to anything at all.  

I realized after Sandy Hook that all of the things I had been programmed by Christian culture to say were pretty useless and trite. In the end, I had to dive to the bottom of my doubt during that dark time in order to find some ground to push off of in order to return to the surface. 

I once had a church member meet with me to share his numerous concerns about the things I was teaching and preaching.  He spent some of the time berating me over my openness when it comes to my struggles with doubt.  "You shouldn't teach people that it's okay to doubt," he chided me.  "You should lead people to the truth, not to doubt." 

Later, as I had time to reflect on his criticism, I felt sorry for him.  I really don't know how to arrive at a real, mature and vibrant faith without experiencing doubt. The great Scottish writer, George MacDonald (who was a huge influence on C.S. Lewis), once wrote: "Do you love your faith so little that you have never battled a single fear lest your faith should not be true?  Where there are no doubts, no questions, no perplexities, there can be no growth."  

In the Gospel of Mark chapter 9 a man asks Jesus' disciples to heal his son, (which the writer of Mark describes as being possessed by an evil spirit) but they can't seem to do it.  Jesus arrives on the scene and assesses the situation: 

21 Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?”
“From childhood,” he answered. 22 “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”
23 “‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.”
24 Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”

That last verse echoes my own prayers to God in the midst of my doubts.  I come to God sometimes like that man came to Jesus--with just a little bit of faith, barely enough to grasp.  Jesus once taught his followers that if all you have is faith as "small a mustard seed," you have enough for God to work with.  
Maybe that's your prayer right now in this season of your life.  You're coming to God and saying, "God, today all I've got is a seed's worth of faith.  Just a speck. That's all I've got right now.  Please, can you make something grow out of this?" 

And the amazing thing about the grace and love of God, I'm convinced, is that God actually loves it when we come to him in those broken moments because we're finally admitting we can't do it without God.  We're finally acknowledging that we're willing to be open to God's mysteries, and God's specific and personal plans for us. 

I've also come to realize that when I am yearning for meaning and certainty, when I am railing at God to show up and reveal Godself--- what I am asking of God is something I ultimately can't handle.  Even Moses wasn't able to handle the full presence and revelation of God when he met God on the mountain.  All he caught was a glimpse of God's glory and meaning.  

The great preacher Frederick Buechner put it far better than I could:  "Without destroying me in the process, how could God reveal himself in a way that would leave no room for doubt?  If there were no room for doubt, there would be no room for me."  

May you embrace your doubt not as a curse, but as a gift.  May you know in your heart of hearts that your doubt is a path to faith, a necessary moment in your journey to wholeness and oneness with God.  May you learn to confidently pray to God, "I believe, help my unbelief."  And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always.  Amen.  


Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Daily Devotion - Wednesday, February 3, 2016


I don't typically pray in conventional fashion.  I pray when I journal every morning.  I pray in conversations with other people.  I pray in silence while driving in my car.  I pray by reading prayers or poems by people who write the best prayers or poems.  And I pray the Lord's Prayer quite often, or read from the Psalms, or prayers and poems written by others when I can't think of what to pray. 

I had to give myself permission to change my prayer life years ago when I realized that my efforts prayer weren't really working.  I always felt kind of bad that when I would set aside time to pray (just me, a place to sit comfortably or sometimes to kneel), I would doze off about halfway through all of my petitions to God. Sometimes it even happened when I was praying with other people.

I'd be praying along, "Lord, I just want to you bless my family, shower us with your bountiful goodness. I pray that you would grant me more patience and peace, especially when I'm watching football.  I also pray that... that... zzzzzz." It was uncanny.  Every single time I tried to pray like I thought I was supposed to pray, my mind would start to wander, then my head would grow heavy, and then I would be out like a light. 

Falling asleep whilst praying isn't the kind of thing you would take a lot of pride in admitting--especially if you're a pastor. But everything changed for me when I started thinking about prayer in a different way.  In fact, it's made my prayer life much more vibrant and I no longer doze off when I'm doing it.  

I came to the realization that I was missing the point with my prayer life, and that prayer was so much more than me just asking God for things.  Pastor and author Brian Zahnd puts it like this, "The primary purpose of prayer is not to get God to do what we think God ought to do, but to be properly formed."  

In the Gospel of Luke 11:1-2 we find this interesting exchange between Jesus and his disciples--an exchange that absolutely transformed the world:  "Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, 'Lord teach us to pray as John taught his disciples.' And he said to them, 'When you pray, say...'" And then Jesus goes on to teach them the Lord's Prayer.  

Rabbis in the ancient world wouldn't give their disciples theories of prayer, or an open-ended exhortation like, "Just tell God what's on your heart."  They would give them a prayer they had composed.  The idea was that in order to learn to pray well, and to have your prayer life become transformational, you prayed a prayer written by someone wiser.  

I'm still allowing myself to be shaped by this idea of prayer.  I think that it's important to tell God what I need, to offer my thanks for what he's given me, to pray for other people's needs, and to even share with God my desires.  The Apostle Paul advocated for this kind of relational conversation with God when he said, "Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances..." (1 Thess 5:16-17)

If I want prayer to form me, however, then I need to approach it differently.  It needs to be more than me simply asking God for things--not that I should feel at all bad about my personal conversations with God, because I shouldn't.  If I want to grow more fully as a follower of Jesus, my prayer life also needs to be flavored with intentionality, shaped by the words of Christ, guided by the ancient prayers of the psalmists, and the prayers and poems written by people far wiser than me.

So today I want to invite you to enter into this way of thinking about prayer and pray with me the prayer Jesus taught to his disciples:  "Our Father who art in heaven.  Hallowed be thy name.  Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.  Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.  Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever.  Amen."