A Prayer for Joy

“To err is human, but to arrr is pirate.” This is a story of both of err and arrr.  When Julius Caesar was a young man, he was captured by pirates and held for ransom (it was an err that the arrrs would regret). The pirates, being pirates, were not so bright and set the ransom at 20 talents. Caesar was horrified. How dare these pirates set such a price for his liberation. It most certainly had to be in err. A talent was roughly the equivalent of the salary a laborer could make in nine years. Caesar was beside himself, not because he feared, at that price, he would never be redeemed, but that the ransom was way too low for someone of his rank and status. In fact, the ransom was embarrassing. And so, Caesar demanded that the pirates (arrr) increase his ransom to a more fitting fifty

A Prayer Filled with Reminders of God

Apparently, Alexander the Great wasn’t so great when it came to art.  An ancient historian (Claudius Aelianus) tells the story of Alexander viewing a painting done in his honor. The painting featured Alexander sitting on his favorite horse. It was a bold portrait done by a master named Apelles. And yet, Alexander was not overly impressed. It failed to move him, and he only gave it faint praise. The artist was not pleased. To prove the painting’s realism and value, he brought a horse into the atrium; and when it saw the paining, it neighed, believing that the horse on the canvas was real. “King,” said Apelles, “this horse seems to understand the painting much better than you.” I often feel like I have very little understanding and appreciation of prayer and that most of my prayers are, in reality, just horsing around. There is an art in praying, but

A Prayer with a Request

Milo of Croton was incredibly strong. He was a wrestler by profession and was well-celebrated by his Greek fans for his fearlessness, strength and his acumen in the ring. Outside the ring, however, he was not so bright.  One day in the 6th century BCE, Milo decided to go for a stroll in the forest. He was enjoying the fresh air and the solitude, but then he spotted something that just called his name. It was a tree, tall and strong. But this one was being split. At some point not too long ago, a lumberjack had tried to split the tree while it was still standing (I was taught that, first, you fell the tree, then you split the tree; but this lumberjack was trying to skip a step). But all this logger accomplished was to get his wedges buried deep in the tree. Yes, it was partly split,

A Prayer and an Address

Fireflies. I love them. I love seeing them light up in the dark as they flitter around in my backyard. But here’s some troubling news.  Fireflies are misnamed. No matter what we say, fireflies are not flies. They are beetles. But I promise you, even if fireflies did nothing different and were just as enlightening and sweet as they are now, but we had to call them firebeetles, I would hate them with a passion. And while we are at it, Koala bears are not bears; they are marsupials. Now, I don’t care if they misnamed the Koala because of marketing; it is misleading. I would suggest that we throw whoever is responsible for this misrepresentation to some grizzlies so he (or she) can know what a true bear looks like. And let’s talk desserts. I don’t care what they say. Boston cream pie is definitely a cake, and cheesecake

A Prayer for a Proper Diagnosis

Suppose you lived in the ancient world and were suffering from a toothache. With no local dentists nearby, you had to find another health-care solution (and even if there was another option, you don’t want to know what people were doing to bring relief to toothaches back then!). Enter the doctrine of “signatures”! When suffering from a particular ailment, it was thought that the solution would often look like the problem. That’s right, it was believed that God, in creating the world, gave us hints as to what curative effect each plant or herb had by shaping said plant so that it looked like the human organ it was made to heal. So, if you have a problem with your brain (and who doesn’t?) or needed a little brain boost before taking your SAT’s, the best thing you could eat is walnuts because the meat of the walnut looks like

A Prayer with All the Fixings

Let’s fix time. I’ve told you this story before; but I think it is a hoot, so, you get to hear it again. One day, Julius Caesar decided he had to fix the calendar. Before his time, all calendars were based on the lunar cycle. But the lunar calendar was 11 days shorter than a solar calendar. In an attempt to fix things, the time police mandated the addition of an extra leap month to the calendar at the end of every three years.  Suffice it to say, that it wasn’t long before Julius Caesar had enough of those sort of time shenanigans and decided that the time was right for a completely new calendar, one that was based solely on the sun. The result of this Julian calendar was that the year was now comprised of 365 ¼ days and would start in January and not in March. (March

A Prayer for Grace and Protection

Angela Carter said, “Comedy is a tragedy that happens to other people.” That truism is wonderfully illustrated by the story of Aeschylus (525-456 BC). Aeschylus was a famous Greek playwright who wrote more than 70 plays, but tragically, only 7 have survived. He is known in dramatic circles as the “father of tragedy.” But tragically, that is not why I remember him. I remember him because he died a tragic death that may also be perceived as rather funny. Pliny the Elder was also a famous author (although he was Roman and not Greek).  Pliny wrote an encyclopedia-like work of scientific discoveries that we now know as pure bunk, but contained such famous quotes as “Fortune favors the brave,” and “The only certainty is that nothing is certain,” and “Home is where the heart is.” It also contained the sad tale of the death of Aeschylus.  The tale recounts how

A Prayer for Grace

Imagine two Christian “superstars” meeting for the first time (they were “superstars” in their day and, for many, they still retain that title even today—but of course, they would never accept that title to describe themselves). I am talking about the American evangelist, DL Moody (1837-1899), and the great British preacher, Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892).  What would their first meeting look like? Now, both Moody and Spurgeon had admired each other from across the pond for decades. Moody, in fact, considered Spurgeon a type of mentor when it came to preaching. Every week, Spurgeon’s Sunday sermon was printed in the newspaper; and Moody studied each issue carefully. But, although they corresponded with each other, they never had the opportunity to meet. But Moody wanted to change that (one of the items on his bucket list was to go to the Metropolitan Tabernacle and hear Spurgeon preach).  And so, one day, he

A Prayer of Self-Dedication

Dedication, some people have it; some don’t. Olympic athletes are often lauded for their extreme dedication to their sports. The amount of time, physical endurance, and mental toughness required to prepare oneself to compete for a medal on a global stage is staggering. But pick your athlete, any athlete; when it comes to giving it their all for Olympic glory, they don’t hold a candle compared to Arrhichion of Phigalia.  Arrhichion was the champion of the Pankration event in the 564 BC Olympic games. The Pankration was similar to our MMA, being a combination of boxing, wrestling, kicking, joint-locks, and lots of pain infliction. To make things even more exciting, there was no referee to end a bout when someone was being beaten to a pulp. No sir! The end of the fight only came when one of the contestants said, “Theios!” (that’s “uncle” in Greek) and gave up. In

A Prayer of Thanks

Here’s the life principle: “Always be yourself, unless you can be Batman. Then, always be Batman.” Why? Because Batman is great. Now, it has been suggested that Batman’s greatness can be summarized in one of the following bat quotes: “I have one power. I never give up.” “All men have limits. They learn what they are and learn not to exceed them. I ignore mine.” “I’m whatever Gotham needs me to be.” “It’s not who I am underneath, but what I do that defines me.” But none of those quotes really isolate what makes Batman truly great. Here’s THE bat quote that we should focus on when discussing what makes Batman extraordinary. The Caped Crusader said: “The true crimefighter always carries everything he needs in his utility belt.” In this series, I am suggesting that you put ten prayers in your utility belt so that no matter what you encounter in

Words Matter

There’s an old joke about three prisoners preparing to face a firing squad. In a flash, the first prisoner comes up with a plan for escape. The sergeant takes him and stands him against the wall and then returns to the firing squad. He begins his countdown, “Ready, aim. . . .” At this point, the first prisoner screams out, “Earthquake! Earthquake!” The firing squad immediately drop their rifles and run off to find shelter. In the chaos, the prisoner escapes. The sergeant is not pleased.  He brings the second prisoner before the firing squad. He beings his countdown, “Ready, aim. . . .” At this point, the second prisoner screams out, “Flood! Flood! Run for your lives.” The firing squad immediately drop their rifles and run for higher ground. During the chaos, the prisoner escapes. The sergeant is really mad now. He brings the third prisoner to the firing

So, You’re Going to Neptune?

Congratulations, you’ve volunteered to join the first-ever exploration of Neptune. All your friends (both of them) think you are insane, and they may be right. After all, it takes 12 years even to get to Neptune and that is if you don’t get lost and have to stop for directions along the way! In any case, you’re going. NASA is very excited, but concerned about space boredom (there is only one other passenger). They have graciously allowed you to take ten books (your Kindle is nearly filled with books on how to survive if you crash into an asteroid). So, here’s my question: what ten books would you bring? (That’s right, this blog has suddenly become an “ice breaker” question.) NASA is also allowing you to bring ten small items from home. What ten items would you bring? They are also allowing you to bring ten prayers with you. What

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