Good morning. Today is Tuesday, January 22, 2013.
It is “National Answer Your Cat’s Question Day.” If I could understand what my cat wanted, I would certainly answer his question.
On the way to work yesterday morning, I suddenly noticed this:
Seriously, I was about three or four miles from home before I noticed it. I have no idea what happened. Random act of vandalism? Kids playing on the street hit it with a football? No clue. But the whole back glass is shattered (it mostly stayed in the window until last night on the way to 24 Hour Fitness). What’s kind of funny is that, when I looked in the rear-view mirror while backing out of the driveway, I thought there was frost on the back window, except for that one spot where the hole is. That was silly, because it was 40 degrees outside. Then, while driving to work, I suddenly realized that I could hear the cars next to me much louder than usual. That’s when I stopped to get out and look. I have a mobile glass service scheduled to come to my work place Thursday and fix it. $50 deductible on the insurance. Right now, I have a large piece of cardboard and plastic under the window. Still, I hope it doesn’t rain in the next couple of days.
Got in a good workout last night, but I have several things that will keep me from working out over the next couple of days. Lifehouse is tonight, so we never plan to visit the gym on Tuesdays, and tomorrow, I have something scheduled. Thursday, the glass people could show up at my work between 12pm and 6pm. If they hit the late end of that window, I may not get home until almost 8pm.
(From Great Stories from History for Every Day)
On this date in 1666, Shah Jahan died. He was, perhaps, “the most cultured and romantic of all Mughal emperors.” He was born son of the Emperor Jahangir, but rebelled in his youth (as sons often do). After reconciling, he came back to Agra, seizing power after his father died in 1627. He became Emperor after a year of fighting other rivals. By the time he became Emperor, he had been married to Mumtaz Mahal for fourteen years. A beautiful woman, Mumtaz Mahal “played a crucial supporting role as his advisor and inseparable companion.” “Together they established a brilliant court of splendid display and oriental grandeur.” She also bore him fourteen children, but died during the birth of the last one. Shah Jahan was 38 when she died. He was so grief-stricken that his hair and beard turned white in just a few months. In her honor, he built a “monument of eternal love, the most beautiful mausoleum in history,” the Taj Mahal. It was completed in 1652. When he fell ill, five years later, a power struggle arose between his four sons. Aurangzeb, the third son, defeated and killed the elder brother. When Shah Jahan unexpectedly recovered, Aurangzeb locked him away in his own fort, but within sight of the Taj Mahal. Shah Jahan lived in this confinement for eight years, “wistfully gazing at the magnificent monument he had constructed for Mumtaz Mahal.” After his death, he was placed in the vault below the Taj Mahal, alongside his wife. Here is a picture of it:
Today’s birthday is Steve Perry, born on this date in 1949. (I was going to do Robert E Howard, author of the Conan stories, but Christi’s favorite singer ever is Steve). Perry is most known as the lead singer for the group Journey.
O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise. Psalm 51:15
Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law. Psalm 119:18
I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify your name forever. Psalm 86:12
Father, indeed, I ask you to open my eyes and my lips this morning, that I may see wondrous things from your word and declare your praise with my mouth!
Today, I’m reading Isaiah 21:11-17.
11 The oracle concerning Dumah. One is calling to me from Seir, “Watchman, what time of the night? Watchman, what time of the night?”
12 The watchman says: “Morning comes, and also the night. If you will inquire, inquire; come back again.”
13 The oracle concerning Arabia. In the thickets in Arabia you will lodge, O caravans of Dedanites.
14 To the thirsty bring water; meet the fugitive with bread, O inhabitants of the land of Tema.
15 For they have fled from the swords, from the drawn sword, from the bent bow, and from the press of battle.
16 For thus the Lord said to me, “Within a year, according to the years of a hired worker, all the glory of Kedar will come to an end.
17 And the remainder of the archers of the mighty men of the sons of Kedar will be few, for the LORD, the God of Israel, has spoken.”
The meaning of “morning” and “night” seem to be symbolic of hope and judgment. Hope in being delivered from the oppression of Assyria, but then further oppression from Babylon. Even Arabia will be affected by what happens in Babylon.
Today’s reading from A Year With God is called “The Gifts God Gives.” The scripture reference is Ephesians 4:11-13.
11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers,
12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,
13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.
The book calls this a part of the list of “spiritual gifts.” I’ve never looked at this particular list in that light. This seems to be more of a list of “offices” than spiritual gifts. However, this truth remains, that “the colossal gift of the risen Christ is the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry.” Believers show who they truly are when they do “the work of ministry.” Our purpose in life is given to us as a gift. There is no need to wander aimlessly looking for purpose.
We all have strengths in our lives, as well as areas where we aren’t so strong. These strengths are given by God in Christ, and are things we should not only recognize, but celebrate. This is very important. “We do not have to shoehorn ourselves into a ministry role for which we are not meant.” That statement is tremendously huge! “We do not have to shoehorn ourselves into a ministry role for which we are not meant.” I could “soapbox” that for hours! (I just “verbed” a word.) Don’t let any well-meaning (or even not so well-meaning) pastor or minister badger you into entering into some kind of ministry for which you are not gifted or equipped! I’m not a strong evangelist. God has not gifted me with that. Therefore, I’m not a good person to be in a ministry of cold-call evangelism. When I was growing up, traditional Baptist churches had “visitation” on one night of the week. Sometimes they would visit people who had visited the church and filled out a card. Other times, who knows where they got the names of the “prospects.” I tell you with no reservation, I loathed (and still do) “visitation” night. There is nothing that terrifies me more than walking up to a total stranger and trying to share the gospel with him. There are some who would question my faith because of that fact. To them I give a giant raspberry. :p Give me a guitar or a keyboard and a microphone, and I will sing the gospel to a thousand total strangers all night long! But do NOT ask me to go one on one in a non-invited situation. Now, if I’m in a conversation with someone, whether I know them or not, and they ask me about my beliefs, I will gladly tell them, and I believe this to be Biblical. I am prepared, as Paul commanded us, to give a defense for my faith. But I’m not going to try to manipulate conversations with everyone I meet to try to get them around to a gospel presentation. Makes me feel like an Amway salesperson. Oh, wait. Nobody “sells” Amway, do they? I forgot.
Deep breath…see what I mean? Big soapbox for me. I despise manipulative conversation. Above all things, I believe Christians should always act with honesty and integrity. When we attempt to manipulate people into the kingdom, we aren’t really getting them there. I once attended a “visitation” encounter where the person leading the conversation badgered a poor guy until he finally “accepted Christ.” I don’t believe for a minute that they guy believed. He was just trying to get us to go away. True, honest disciples are created by true, honest relationships built on trust and integrity. You can’t manipulate a disciple.
Back to the topic. Why do we not need to try to “shoehorn” ourselves into a ministry into which we do not fit? Because “our strengths combine with those of our brothers and sisters to form the whole Body of Christ, the Church.” That’s why!! That doesn’t meant that I should neglect or give up on areas of weakness. If I’m weak at evangelism, I should probably study all the more any scriptures that reflect gospel presentation. I should pray that I would be ready and able should an opportunity arise. Dallas Willard is quoted as saying, “The disciplines we need to practice are precisely the ones we are not good at.” I’m challenged to look at the table of contents of the book, where the various disciplines are listed, and see which ones I’m strong in, and which ones need work. This list includes, prayer, study, confession, worship, service, secrecy, guidance, meditation, solitude, fellowship, fasting, chastity, submission, sacrifice, silence, simplicity, and celebration. Remember the book is supposed to last the whole year. Yes, I see a few in there that I’m really good at. I’m doing pretty good with prayer (although that still needs refining), not bad at study. Worship is probably my strongest one. I like solitude…I really thrive on this morning time each day, by myself in here. But there are several I need serious work on; service, fellowship (remember, I like solitude), fasting, submission, simplicity. I’m challenged to perhaps give those disciplines a little extra attention as I work through this book.
The main point here is to recognize and celebrate the gifts that we know we have, while not neglecting areas where we are weaker.
Father, I thank you for the gifts that you have given me. I praise you that you have gifted everyone in the Body of Christ with at least one gift for the work of ministry. May you give us all wisdom to know and use our gifts appropriately. May you also give us wisdom to know what are gifts are not, and to not try to “shoehorn” ourselves into a ministry for which we are not fit. I also pray for wisdom for those who would attempt to manipulate us into areas of ministry for which we are not fit. That being said, I pray that you, by the power of the Spirit, would help me to be stronger in areas where I am weak. Give me confidence for sharing your good news with others. Give me wisdom and willingness for simplicity. Help me “play well with others” so that I might fellowship more. During the course of this year, I pray that you would strengthen me in disciplines in which I am weak, and further strengthen me in the ones where I am already strong. May my worship of you soar to new heights never before experienced! May my times of solitude lift me closer to you each day. Strengthen me in service and submission. Teach me your ways, that I may walk in your truth. Renew a right spirit within me this year, Lord.
I pray for my family today, as always. Give Christi and Stephanie a good day today, drawing their hearts ever closer to yours. May our work day be a day of fulfillment and accomplishment, without anxiety and stress. Cover us with your Spirit and protect us from anything that would cause us anxiety. May we find that peace that passes all understanding today. Make us peacemakers in your kingdom.
I pray for peace for Andy, in California, today. I also pray for provision for him, that he might have food and shelter. May your grace fall on him today.
May we all recognize and celebrate our gifts from God, given for the work of the ministry.
Grace and peace, friends.