Good morning. Today is Tuesday, January 8, 2013. Today is “Hug a Notre Dame Fan Day.” I wish I could take credit for that, but I stole it from a Facebook friend. Seriously, though. That was a championship game? More solid evidence that the BCS system is irreparably broken. For those of us who couldn’t care less about the outcome of said “championship” game, yesterday went pretty well, for our first Monday back from paradise. Christi successfully wore her boot all day at work, and it actually went pretty well.
Today is “Show and Tell At Work Day.” (Hey, it was either that or “National Man Watcher’s Day.” No thank you.) I’ve got pictures from Cancun to show, if anyone wants to see them. Of course, most of my friends have already seen them on Facebook. That’s the big problem with “social media,” you know. Everyone already knows what you did on your vacation, which kind of spoils the thrill of getting to tell them all about it when you get back. It also makes class reunions pretty much redundant. All your classmates already know what you’ve been doing for the last ten years. They also know how fat/skinny you’ve gotten, because they can see your pictures. Anyway…
On this date in 1815, the Battle of New Orleans took place. The battle was part of the War of 1812 (which, by the way, has nothing to do with Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture”), which was “the result of what Americans considered unjust and intolerable British conduct at sea during Britain’s titanic struggle with Napoleon.” During this war, the British burned Washington (DC). The conflict was officially ended by the Treaty of Ghent, which was signed on December 24, 1814. But they didn’t have the Internet, Twitter, or Facebook back then, so Andrew Jackson didn’t get the message until after the two armies faced each other at New Orleans. The British General, Major General Sir Edward Pakenham (brother-in-law to the Duke of Wellington), sent a message to Jackson, saying, “If you do not surrender, I shall destroy your breastworks and eat breakfast in New Orleans Sunday morning.” Jackson’s response was, “If you do, you will eat supper in hell Sunday night.”
When Pakenham attacked, the battle lasted 30 minutes. Sheltered behind bales of cotton, Jackson’s troops soundly defeated the British, killing 2000, including Pakenham. The Americans suffered seven killed and six wounded. The fame from the victory resulted in a successful bid for the presidency for Andrew Jackson.
It also inspired this song…
Today’s birthday is Amber Benson, born on this date in 1977. Most of us know her best as Tara on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but she has also been busy writing, directing, and acting since then. Today was a tough day to choose, on birthdays, so an honorable mention goes to Graham Chapman, born on this date in 1941. Chapman was part of the genius behind Monty Python’s Flying Circus, and passed away in 1989. And yes, I know it’s Elvis’s birthday.
May all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you! May those who love your salvation say evermore, “God is great!” Psalm 70:4
Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God shines forth. Psalm 50:2
But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the LORD, because he has dealt bountifully with me. Psalm 13:5-6
Father, I do trust in your steadfast love, this morning. Shine forth out of your holy throne, my God, and show yourself to me. May I see just enough of your grace to get me through this day, Lord. Teach me your way, that I may walk in your truth.
Today, I’m reading Isaiah 17:4-6.
4 And in that day the glory of Jacob will be brought low, and the fat of his flesh will grow lean.
5 And it shall be as when the reaper gathers standing grain and his arm harvests the ears, and as when one gleans the ears of grain in the Valley of Rephaim.
6 Gleanings will be left in it, as when an olive tree is beaten— two or three berries in the top of the highest bough, four or five on the branches of a fruit tree, declares the LORD God of Israel.
“That day” seems to be referring to the day that judgment is brought down on Damascus, the subject of this oracle. But it was already stated, in verse 3, that the “remnant of Syria will be like the glory of the children of Israel.” And here, in verse 4, we see that glory being brought low, and even their flesh growing lean. Still, in spite of this, verses 5 and 6 indicate that there will be a remnant in Israel.
Today’s reading in A Year With God is called “Remember the Lord Your God.” The scripture reference is Deuteronomy 8:12-18.
12 lest, when you have eaten and are full and have built good houses and live in them,
13 and when your herds and flocks multiply and your silver and gold is multiplied and all that you have is multiplied,
14 then your heart be lifted up, and you forget the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery,
15 who led you through the great and terrifying wilderness, with its fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty ground where there was no water, who brought you water out of the flinty rock,
16 who fed you in the wilderness with manna that your fathers did not know, that he might humble you and test you, to do you good in the end.
17 Beware lest you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.’
18 You shall remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your fathers, as it is this day.
In this passage, we are warned of the dangers of complacency in the wake of success. “God blesses us and we stop praying or caring about our relationship with God. We become self-sufficient.” Sometimes, when life goes really well, we forget about God. But, as I’m sure most of us have seen, it doesn’t take long for the tide to change, and that “complacency lands us in trouble and we desperately seek God again.” I’ve noted, many times in my life, that people seem to only cry out to God when they are in trouble. Even the most irreligious people, when things get really bad, tend to call out to God, if for no other reason, than to express their anger at him.
I am challenged, today, to reflect on times when I have forgotten God. This is actually a challenge for me, as there aren’t many times that I can think of when I have truly “forgotten” God. Sure, I have rebelled, and perhaps rebellion is a form of forgetting. A prayer is offered by the writers of the book:
Lord God, I am ashamed when I think of how quickly I take credit when things in my life are going well. Forgive me for those times when I have forgotten to recognize you as the source of all the blessings in my life. Help me to avoid a life of complacency, of forgetting about you when life is easy and returning only when things are difficult. Teach me to live in a spirit of constant thankfulness. In your name I pray. Amen.
As I go through this day, I will reflect on those times. I believe I am already forgiven for them, so I won’t be redundant with requests for forgiveness for past sins. However, I certainly see the value in praying for consistency and protection against the dangers of complacency.
Father, I do indeed pray against complacency in my life. You have been more than good to us. To call you “good” is an understatement, unless we consider that you are the only one who can truly be called “good.” You are the definition of “good.” The blessings that you have poured out on my family cannot be counted in a lifetime. My life is blessed beyond description, Lord. I have already recounted some of these blessings in the past few days, and will continue to do so when your Spirit reminds me. Today, though, I ask you to remind me of times when I rebelled or forgot about you. Not for the purpose of shame, but for the purpose of, well, reminding; that I may garrison myself against such times happening again. There is no shame, because I am redeemed, and all of my sins are forgiven. There can only be shame when I catch myself repeating past failures. And that is the purpose of this prayer and the request for reminders; to prevent repeating past failures.
I thank you that, in my recent history, there are no times that I can see where I forgot about you or took credit for things going well. I know that, at least for the past year, I have given you full credit for every blessing that has flowed down to my family. I give you praise for this. And I pray that these blessings will continue, and that we will continue to praise you with every breath that we possess. Everything I have comes from you. I have nothing to call my own, and, frankly, I don’t want anything. I only want you, Lord. If I begin to desire anything besides you, I pray that your Spirit quench that desire immediately!
I pray for this day, Father. I pray that Christi’s work day will go smoothly today, and that the boot will do its work in helping her foot to heal. She has said that, already, she notices that she doesn’t feel the bone hurting when she walks with it. I pray for quick healing. I also pray for Stephanie’s day today, that she might find hope and encouragement in you today. Show your Spirit to her, Lord, and fill her. Give her joy today. I pray that my work day will also go smoothly, and that I will be reminded to reflect on your blessings during this day. I pray for a good Lifehouse meeting tonight, as we have not been together in several weeks.
I pray for a friend, Laura, who is experiencing some pretty severe sciatic nerve pain. I pray for healing for her, Lord.
Your grace is sufficient.
Beware the dangers of complacency when things are going well. We must remember from whom all good things flow. “Praise God from whom all blessings flow…”
Grace and peace, friends.