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Maine State Senate Opening Prayer

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I had the opportunity again to open the Maine State Senate in prayer.  My prayer this time was based on Luke 20:25, “He said to them, ‘Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.’”  The first part of the prayer focuses on faithful government service (i.e. giving to Caesar), while the second part focuses on the whole person (i.e. giving to God) and especially life outside of the Senate chamber.  My wife, Jen, joined me this year and we very much enjoyed our visit.

Maine State Senate Prayer 2017
Tuesday, February 28, 2017
Rev. Larry J. Lakey

Good morning, please bow with me in prayer.

Dear Heavenly Father,

You are perfectly gracious and You give us every good thing to enjoy.  Thank You for this day, and for the opportunity to work and serve the people of this great state.  Thank You for the men and women who serve in this Senate body.  Help them to serve well in their trusted roles.  May they serve selflessly, pursuing the common good over and above their own interests.  Grant them an exemplary standing in abiding the law.  Help them to navigate difficult issues and situations that might endanger their integrity, and protect them against false accusation.  Give them an unusual ability to listen to each other, to highly regard the perspectives of those with whom they disagree.  May they see the worth You have invested in every person made in Your Image.  Grant them patience and a gracious spirit when working as colleagues.  Give them uncommon wisdom, clarity of thought, and the perseverance needed to work creatively toward effective solutions for complex problems.  Make their work productive and fruitful for the good of those whom they serve.  Grant them the good reputation that is earned by those who steward well this authority and this great responsibility.

Father, I also pray that you would bless each one of them in a very personal way.  May their lives outside of government work be rich and satisfying.  Grant not only the ability to work well, but the peace and rest needed when the work day is done.  Bless them in their relationships with family; may they find joy in knowing and loving others, as well as in being known and loved by others.  Give them transparency and intimacy with those who care for them most.  Protect them from those who would merely use them for political influence.  Bring genuine friendships into their lives, and trusted companions with whom to share all of the good things You give.  Grant them the perspective needed to make wise investments in relationships that far outlast the duration of their public service.  I pray that their lives outside this chamber would be just as rich and full as their collaborative work here together could possibly be.

May the great State of Maine thrive because of those who serve in this Senate.

I pray this in the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen.

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Maine Senate Opening Reflection & Prayer

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I once again had the opportunity to open the Maine Senate in prayer.  This time, I brought one of my daughters with me and shared a brief reflection based upon an experience my family has recently had.  It was a unique occasion for me to talk from a very public platform about what God has been doing in my life:

Maine Senate Opening Reflection and Prayer
May 20, 2015
Rev. Larry J. Lakey
Winslow Baptist Church

Good morning and thank you for the invitation and privilege to open today’s session in prayer. Before I pray, I’d like to share some thoughts based on some recent experiences my family and I have had together.

Exactly three weeks ago today, my wife and I became licensed for foster and adoptive care in the State of Maine.   Of course, this sort of licensing is not an overnight process. The desire to help provide a home for children in need began building in us years ago. Along the way, there were documents and disclosures and inspections and seminars and interviews and approvals. And we also talked to other foster and adoptive parents, those who were further ahead on a journey similar to the one we would begin. We listened to their stories: stories about completing the licensing process, about getting their homes ready, and about finally receiving that first phone call for a child to be placed with their family. We would listen, ask questions, and wonder when our phone call would come – what that day would be like for us. We didn’t need to wait long; the day our license was finalized, our phone call came.

My purpose in telling you about my family’s experience is not to highlight the need for foster and adoptive parenting in the State, nor to bring your attention to any issues as legislators. There are others far better qualified than me to do that. I am sharing this story with you in order to bring you into my moment of decision three weeks ago today, the moment when that phone call came. It came sooner than we expected and, to be forthright, at a highly inconvenient time: Our schedule was full, our energy level was low, and our refrigerator was empty. We certainly didn’t feel ready. But the call came because the need was there. It was an emergency placement; children needed a place to stay within a few hours. My wife received the call first and then spoke with me. We agreed to talk again after a few minutes of gathering our thoughts, a task that proved much more difficult than I had anticipated. My thoughts and emotions were in a whirlwind, and I searched for some degree of clarity under pressure. I prayed that I might somehow boil this decision down to its essence – down to a single principle or question that would help guide whatever choice I should make. The question that came to my mind was surprisingly simple and essential. It was this: If not me, then who? If I was not to act in this moment, who would? If I would not provide a home, where would these children go? Would I stand by, motionless and silent while this need was left unmet? If not me, then who?

That single question helped guide my decision in a moment of need. All of the preparation and anticipation only mattered if, in that moment, I chose to do the one thing that I knew I must do. The opportunity was before me and it would pass me by if I failed to act. So we said, “Yes” and for three weeks now, my family has hosted two young children in our home. We have loved them, protected them, and provided for them as our own. We have been challenged, stretched, and humbled in unforgettable ways. We will never be the same, and I believe we have changed for the better.

I know that the honorable men and women in this body are working hard to make our great State better. I know that your work is difficult, complex, and timely. And I know that you work under tremendous pressure. My hope is that today, as you face the important business before you, this same question might help guide your decisions. Is there work that you must do because the opportunity will pass you by if you fail to act? Is there a decision that you must make because it is yours alone to make? Is there a timely issue – or perhaps a set of issues – for which the pertinent question is, “If not you, then who?”

I respectfully invite you to join me in prayer:

Heavenly Father, thank You for this day You have given us. Thank you for the men and women in this Senate whom You given as leaders and legislators for the State of Maine. Thank you for the difficult, complex, and timely work that is before them. Please guide them in their decisions: Provide the questions that must be answered to help bring clarity to actions they must take. Give them unity, give them wisdom, give them resolve to do the things that they alone must do. And bless them, I pray, as they serve in this capacity. May they be challenged, stretched, and humbled in their work so that they may serve well.

I pray this in the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen.

What has God been doing in your life that you need to share so others may hear and be encouraged?

Maine State Senate Opening Prayer

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Today I opened the Maine State Senate in prayer.  It was a great experience.  I am grateful for the opportunity and want to share with you the text of my prayer as read this morning and recorded in official minutes.  Oh, that this prayer would be answered!

State Senate Opening Prayer
March 25, 2014
Rev. Larry J. Lakey

Good morning and thank you for the invitation and privilege to open today’s session. I respectfully ask that you would stand and join me in prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father,

Thank you for the religious liberty that has been secured in our nation as a basic human freedom.  Please bless this Senate for recognizing and exercising this liberty today. May human freedom flourish as this practice of prayer is continued. 

Our thoughts are first with those who are suffering today. Please be with those who are grieving following tragedy.  Bring comfort to those in need today.

We confess that our nation has been deeply divided.  Discourse in the civic arena is often angry and contentious.  Trust in elected officials is low.  We no longer assume the best of each other or portray each other in the best way possible.  This same division is visible at times in the political discourse of our own state. Forgive us for this. Help these elected representatives to lead the way forward and out of bitter division.  Let their respect for each other and collegial manner set an example for others.

Please give them patience to listen.  Help each member of this assembly to realize that no one person or one party has all the answers to the important questions, or solutions for the difficult problems that we face.  Only you, Father, see all and know all.  By your grace, give them insight and understanding.

Please give them honesty to speak truth to each other and to the world. Protect them from the temptation to oversimplify or exaggerate or tell only part of the story. Only you, Father, dwell in perfect truth.  Help them to see, to know, and to speak the truth.

Please give them the unity to act.  Help them to find common ground today where there seemed to be none before. Bless them with creative solutions.  Only you, Father, can do the impossible.  Help them to know which steps of action to take and how to build a necessary consensus to do good.

Please give them humility to serve.  Remind them of their place in your grand scheme. Protect each from thinking too highly of herself or himself.  Only you, Father, have demonstrated perfect humility in the Gospel. Help their actions to benefit those whom they serve in these elected offices.

May today, gracious Father, be a day of great accomplishment. No authority exists that has not been granted by you.  Throughout history, not all have been good stewards of this authority. Help this assembly, help each member here today, to faithfully administer this stewardship for the common good, and for the prosperity of every citizen in the Great State of Maine.

I pray this in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.

Thank you and may God bless you in every way.

Tell me what you think: If you had the chance to open a government assembly in prayer, how would you pray?

Warrior Class #2

On Saturday mornings, men in our church gather for “The Warrior Class.” It’s a simple breakfast, simple (one principle) lesson, and simple mini-group discussion. If you missed this week’s lesson, or want to revisit the principle again, here’s what we covered:

Principle: A godly warrior always follows orders.

Passage: 1 Samuel 15:1-35

Knowing:  God’s idea of right and wrong is better than mine.

Is your sense of right and wrong influenced more by God’s Word or by your own ideas and values?

In what ways are you tempted to lead by your own values?

What missed opportunities or consequences has sin caused in your life?

Believing:  My failed life and leadership must be redeemed by Jesus.

Do you believe that God’s Word is always right and good?

What areas of your life and leadership need to be redeemed by forgiveness?

What is God calling you to painfully surrender for the sake of obedience?

Doing:  When I trust God, my actions reveal it.

Are your actions always consistent with your stated beliefs?  Why or why not?

What have you been bargaining with God instead of obeying?

What is one thing that you know you must do to obey God immediately?

Each week we report back with success stories from applying the previous week’s lesson. Feel free to comment below, too.

Warrior Class #1

Warrior Class for men

On Saturday mornings, men in our church are gathering for “The Warrior Class.” It’s a simple breakfast, simple (one principle) lesson, and simple mini-group discussion. If you missed the first week, or want to revisit the first principle again, here’s what we covered:

Principle: A warrior must know whom he fights for.
Passage: 1 Samuel 17 (see especially v.26, 37, 45-47)

Knowing: Jesus is King; we submit to Him and are loyal to Him. Jesus defeated evil, sin, and death. He fights battles I can’t win.
Do I see Jesus as a conquering King? What doubts do I have? Am I loyal to Him in every way? Do I answer to Him? Do I ask Him for instruction?

Believing: I need the Gospel because I want to be king; I need forgiveness. Jesus gives this forgiveness; He is a king worth fighting for. Real manhood means trusting Jesus as King.
Why do I want to be my own King? What fears cause this? Have I surrendered to King Jesus? Have I asked for His forgiveness? Do I believe Jesus is a King worth fighting for? Whose approval matters most to me?

Doing: A warrior looks for areas of life that lack loyalty. He brings all under his responsibility and influence into war mode. Real manhood means discipline. Real manhood means sacrifice, just like the King we follow.
(Hands) What areas of my life display loyalty to Jesus the strongest? How am I showing loyalty to Jesus in front of my wife? How am I showing loyalty to Jesus in front of my children? What areas display loyalty to Jesus the weakest? What changes do I need to make immediately? What habits need to change/end/begin to better receive instruction from King Jesus?

Each week we’ll report back with success stories from applying the previous week’s lesson. Feel free to comment below, too.

Wearing or Bearing?

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I have a gold cross.  Many people do.  Many people wear them openly and proudly.

The cross is a cherished symbol.  We should wear one, if we choose, with gratitude for what it symbolizes: Jesus knowingly, willingly, laid down His life to pay the price for rebellion against God (what the Bible calls “sin”).

But I have a question for you: Are you just wearing one or are you bearing one?  I think there is a difference.

What I mean is that wearing a cross is making a statement about ourselves.  Wearing a cross is the result of our will, our desires, our plans, our agenda.  We are declaring part of our identity:  We are communicating what we believe.  But the focus is still on us.

Bearing a cross is making a statement about Jesus.  Jesus told those who would follow, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23) Bearing a cross means dying to our will, our desires, our plans, our agenda.  We are declaring that our identity is not what matters: We are communicating that we believe in Someone.  So the focus is on Jesus.  Because He took up His cross for us, we take up our cross and follow Him.

Is there anything wrong with wearing a cross?  Not at all.  I’m glad if you do.  We all need a little reminder now and then.

Sometimes, though, we need more than a reminder.   We need to hear someone tell the good news about Jesus and back it up by following Him.  If we need people who follow Jesus to wear crosses, we need even more people who follow Jesus to bear crosses.

If you’re going to wear one, let me encourage you to bear one as well.

So, how about you?  Are you just wearing your cross or are you bearing it too?

Love is why.

I mentioned this video in my message this morning.  Powerful!  How does it change the way you look at life?